Bombay High Court seeks details from State on child marriage prohibition officers in Maharashtra

The Court asked the State to give details on how many officers were appointed, whether they were regularly sending updates of any child marriages they were prohibiting, and if action is taken for their failure, if any.

The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra government to submit details on the appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPO) within the State. [Child Marriage Prohibition Committee and Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.]

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Arif Doctor directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit on the following aspects:

  • How many CMPOs have been appointed by the State of Maharashtra?
  • Whether the number is sufficient or does the State require more officers?
  • The CMPOs purportedly managed to prohibit 821 marriages from 2018 to 2022. However, no additional information or details such as FIR details, etc., has been provided.
  • Under the Maharashtra Prohibition of Child Marriage Rules, a CPMO was directed to provide regular updates about child marriages that have been prevented or reported. If CPMO fails to discharge his duty, has any disciplinary action taken against the officer?

The bench directed the State government to file the affidavit before August 2, 2023.

It also underscored that since CMPOs performed important roles, it is necessary that adequate officers are appointed and their performances are strictly supervised.

The directions were issued in a public interest litigation filed through advocate Ajinkya Udane raising issues related to child marriages in Maharashtra and the apparent non-implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA).

The plea sought for framing and implementing of rules to bring effect to the PCMA.

Government pleader PP Kakade informed the Court today that rules under the PCMA were framed and notified on October 21, 2022.

The bench noted that these rules imposed important duties on the child marriage prohibition officers.

CMPOs were also given powers to take action against complaints it receives about the child marriages, the Court was informed.

Any individual, organisation or educational institution could report about any incident of child marriage, if there is a any reason to believe such a marriage may happen.

The CMPO is further empowered to conduct an enquiry, record statements, and collect evidence after such complaint.


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