Mass marriages to be regulated

Panel proposes measures to deter child marriages across State
Last Updated 20 February 2011, 03:54 IST

Those who organise such ceremonies need to obtain permission from the authorities concerned and also compulsorily submit a medical/school certificate confirming the age of brides, Justice Shivraj V Patil, Chairman of the Core Committee for Prevention of Child Marriage, said on Saturday.

Child marriage rampant

Addressing reporters here, he said such measures to control and regulate mass marriages were essential in preventing rampant child marriages across Karnataka.

Besides, mass marriages should be conducted in the presence of an officer of the Women and Child Development Department.

He said it was noted personalities who usually organised mass marriages. They should take the responsibility of ensuring that child marriages do not take place, said Justice Patil, a retired Supreme Court judge who also heads a one-man commission on the 2G spectrum scam.

Action plan

The State government set up the core committee in November last year to prepare an action plan to prevent child marriages, after a direction from the Karnataka High Court.
There have been several allegations of child marriages at mass marriages conducted in various parts of North Karnataka.

For instance, child rights activists alleged that there were about 69 minor couples at a mass marriage organised by Health Minister Sriramulu’s Fans Association in Gadag district in October 2010. As many as 39 couples who tied the knot during a ceremony at Kalghatagi in Bellary in March 2010 too were minors.

Child marriage has been abolished under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. But the practice is rampant in nine districts of North Karnataka - Belgaum, Bidar, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Bellary, Gadag, Dharwad, Raichur and Koppal.

An average of 48 per cent to 68 per cent of marriages are child marriages in these districts. The overall State average is 58 per cent, Justice Patil said.

Field visits

The core committee plans to conduct field visits to the nine districts in March and April and hold consultations with local officials and non-government organisations. It will submit its action plan within six months, Justice Patil said.

Those who have suggestions in this regard can contact the committee office at Room 133, 1st Floor, Vikasa Soudha.

They can also call phone numbers 080-22352152/ 22034004.

(Published 19 February 2011, 17:25 IST)

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