Panel for registration of all marriages

For the record

Panel for registration of all marriages

The committee, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Shivaraj V Patil, which submitted its report to the Women and Child Development Department on Thursday, has recommended amendments to the Karnataka Marriages (Registration and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1976, aimed at making it mandatory for all marriages held in the State to be registered within 30 days.

Failing to abide by the clause should attract imposition of a penalty on the erring parties. Further, jurisdictional officers, like village accountants, should also be held responsible and disciplinary taken against them if they fail to register marriages, the panel has recommended.

According to official sources, only a small percentage of marriages are registered in the State. Around 43,000 marriages were registered last year.

This, in spite of a provision in the 1976 Act mandating that all marriages in the State need to be registered.  However, the inclusion of the penal clause, as suggested by the committee, could help in improving the registration scene.

The Shivaraj Patil Committee had been appointed by the Karnataka High Court with a mandate to prepare an action plan to prevent child marriages in the State.  The committee has also favoured a year-long intensive and multi-pronged campaign against child marriage across the State from November 14 this year.Speaking to reporters after submitting the two-volume report running into 646 pages with annexures, Patil said the committee has also recommended a mandatory three-month imprisonment against those who violate the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act, 2006.

At present, those who are prosecuted under the Central Act can get away by paying a fine. Besides, the police should be given suo motu powers to book cases against those found encouraging the social evil, Patil said.

Child marriages, highly prevalent especially in North Karnataka, took place mostly in the form of mass weddings, while individual cases were also reported, he said.

The main objective of the committee was to create awareness about the consequences of child marriage and its impact on the child. It also aimed at analysing the existing constitutional and legal measures against the social evil.

The committee held three State-level consultations in Bangalore and six district-level consultations covering 13 districts, including Bagalkot, Belgaum, Bidar, Bijapur, Chamarajnagar, Dharwad, Gadag, Gulbarga, Koppal, Mysore, Mandya, Raichur and Yadgir.

Main reasons

The panel felt that poverty and poor economic conditions of families, superstition, customs in families and society were among the main reasons for child marriages in the State. Illiteracy and lack of legal awareness also contributed to its prevalence.

The committee has recommended that negligence and dereliction of duty by officials in relation to the issue of child marriages, need to be viewed seriously and departmental action initiated.

The panel recommended the involvement of NGOs, media and appointment of a special rapporteur to coordinate and follow up the implementation of the action plan against child marriages.

An incentive of Rs 500 could be provided as a reward to those who alert the government on incidence of child marriages, he said.

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