'Be ready to be jailed if you solemnise child marriage'

'Be ready to be jailed if you solemnise child marriage'

Any priest or cleric, found to have solemnised child marriage, would find himself behind the bars. This was the terse message by district magistrate of Patna, Sanjay Agarwal, to a motley group of clergymen from four religions: Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian.

The message was conveyed at a special meeting convened here in the state capital as part of the Nitish regime drive against child marriage and dowry.

"You won't be held accountable in case of dowry. But in the case of child marriage, you will be directly held responsible because you are the first person to know about it. So keep this in mind before solemnising any child marriage, or else you run the risk of being arrested for solemnising any wedding of underage," the DM cautioned.

Attended by around 100 religious leaders, the meet saw the clerics take an oath that they will never solemnise any wedding where the girl is less than 18 years old and the boy is below 21 years.

Apart from clergy men, the meeting was attended by those representing musical bands (played at marriage functions) and printers (who print wedding invitations).

The district magistrate told the printers and bands to provide their service after taking an undertaking from the bride and groom's family that their children were not underage. "If anyone is found not following the stipulated orders, he will be liable to face strict action, including arrest," said the DM.

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