Panchayat arranges marriage of minors, CWC sends notice
A 17-year-old boy in a village in Lohardaga district was on Friday made to marry a minor girl in the same village on the orders of the panchayat apparently because the two would talk to each other on phone for “long durations”.
The boy, an intermediate student and a native of Simdega district, stays with his paternal uncle and aunt in the village. The minor girl (13) is a student of Class VIII. According to the villagers, both were friends and used to talk over phone calls for long durations. This resulted in disputes between the two families on several occasions.
After another such dispute on May 30, the village residents held a panchayat meeting, where it was decided to marry them. As both the families consented, the marriage ceremony was held the next day. The minor girl has moved to her husband’s house, and both families are happy with the marriage, village residents said.
Raj Kumar Verma, chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee at Lohardaga, said they had taken cognisance of the matter. “Enquiries are being conducted. We have informed the Child Development Project Officer. The village mukhiya has been issued a notice and his reply is awaited. An FIR would be registered after verifying the details,” he said.
Verma said marriage between minors was prohibited by law and was a punishable offence under the relevant sections of the IPC and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. “Consent is immaterial in such cases and everyone involved in arranging the marriage or attending the marriage ceremony could be penalised for the offence,” he said.
Akanksha Ranjan, deputy commissioner, Lohardaga, said that requisite action would be taken in the matter after ascertaining the details.
The social menace of child marriage is widespread in Jharkhand.
As per National Family Health Survey-4, Jharkhand (38%) has registered the third largest incidence of child marriages after West Bengal (40.7%) and Bihar (39.1%). The survey also reveals that 30% of the males between the age group of 25 years to 29 years were married before the mandated age of 21.