Gauhati HC Raises Question on Application of POSCO Act In Child Marriage Crackdown

Guwahati: The Assam Government’s involvement in the campaign against child marriage has been called into serious doubt by the Gauhati High Court.

The ongoing campaign against child marriage in Assam resulted in nine people being accused under the POSCO act, and the Gauhati High Court on Tuesday granted them pre-arrest bail.

The Bench of Justice said, “If marriages are taking place in violation of law, the law will take its own course.

These cases have been happening since time. We will only consider if immediate custodial interrogation is required. At this moment, the court thinks that these are not matters for custodial interrogation. We will ask them to appear and record their statements. These are not NDPs, smuggling, or stolen property cases.”

The court also condemned the government of using strict laws such the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 (POCSO) and rape accusations against those who were suspected of child marriage, calling these accusations “totally strange.”

After hearing a number of requests for anticipatory bail and interim relief from a group of defendants, Justice Suman Shyam granted immediate release on bail for all of the petitioners.

He also said that, “This (arrest) is causing havoc in the private life of people. There are children, there are family members and there are old people. This may not be a good idea to go for (arrests), obviously it is a bad idea.”

As many as 3,031 people have been arrested as a result of the registration of 4,225 child marriage cases as of February 14. With 4,004 FIRs, the crackdown had begun on February 3.

After the government advocate pointed out that cases were registered under non-bailable charges under POCSO Act and rape (IPC Section 376), Justice Shyam said, “What is the POCSO here? Merely because POCSO is added, does it mean the judges will not see what is there.”

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