Mumbai, April 18: The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit detailing what steps it has taken towards preventing the solemnisation of child marriages in the state.
A division bench of Justices Amjad Sayed and Abhay Ahuja noted that there are hardly any cases registered in the state related to child marriage offences.
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) that raised issues related to child marriages in Maharashtra and non-implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCA).
The Act prohibits solemnisation of marriage of a boy who is less than 21 years of age and a girl who is less than 18 years old. Maharashtra Shocker: Minor Boy Found Dead in Pimpri Chinchwad; Cops Suspect Murder.
"As per the petition, the Rules to be framed under the Act is still in the pipeline. The state government shall file its affidavit. In the affidavit, the government shall say what steps it has taken on the issue," the court said.
"It appears that there are hardly any case registered (under the Act)," Justice Sayed said. The court will hear the plea further on June 13.
Advocates Asim Sarode and Ajinkya Udane, appearing for the petitioner, claimed before the court that around one lakh cases of child marriages take place per year across the state.
As per the PIL, the effects of early marriage have devastating consequences for a girl's health and other aspects of her life.
"Child brides are frequently deprived for their rights to health, education, girls married young are far less likely to stay in school, with lifelong economic impacts. Child brides are also at greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, contracting HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence," the plea noted.
The petition suggested certain steps for effective implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.