“Society Must Introspect": Calcutta High Court Raises Alarm on Child Marriages

Mainstream
13-Mar-2024
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Expressing grave concern over the persistence of child marriages despite legal prohibitions, the Calcutta High Court emphasized the urgent need for societal reform. In a case titled *Samir Barman vs State of West Bengal*, a division bench of Justices Harish Tandon and Supratim Bhattacharya underscored the detrimental effects of child marriages on both minor victims and society at large.

Quoting from its February 20 order, the Court highlighted the imperative for societal introspection and sensitization to prevent such practices. The judges noted the alarming prevalence of child marriages, citing studies conducted by NGOs and other entities, and emphasized the need for collective efforts to combat this issue.

The Court observed that a significant number of child marriage cases go unreported due to a lack of awareness programs and cultural compulsions within certain communities. It also acknowledged instances where child marriages occurred with the involvement of family members or adult spouses.

In the case before it, the Court denied anticipatory bail to a 20-year-old man accused of forcibly marrying a minor girl. Despite legal prohibitions, the bench lamented the involvement of the accused's grandparents in facilitating such marriages.

The accused's actions, despite being underage for marriage, were deemed impermissible by the Court. Notably, the victim's statement under Section 164 of the CrPC substantiated the allegations against him.

In response to the concerning trend, the Court ordered the Woman and Child Department of West Bengal to organize a seminar aimed at raising awareness and preventing child marriages. This initiative seeks to educate society and foster resistance against marriages involving minors or individuals below the legal age of marriage.

Advocates Arijit Ghosh and Swarnali Ghosh represented the bail applicant, while Advocates Abhijit Sarkar and Tapan Bhattacharjee appeared for the State. The Court's directive underscores the judiciary's commitment to addressing the social menace of child marriages and advocating for the welfare of vulnerable minors.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University