Child marriage is a non-bailable and cognizable offence attracting two-year rigorous jail term: Judge

Awareness of the implications of the Prevention of Child Marriage Act, 2006, is essential for administrative, judicial and police officials to prevent child marriages and initiate action against violators, according to Principal District-cum-Sessions Judge V.Balasundara Kumar.

Addressing a special legal training programme for judicial officers and staff, and police officials on care and protection of children on Saturday, he said child marriage was a non-bailable and cognizable offence which attracted two-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. lakh.

The court had the power to make an interim or final order under Section 3 of the Act. Moreover, judges should decide on the place of asylum of the child keeping in mind the safety of minor girls, he said.

Persons, including parents or guardians or association of persons, who did any act to promote child marriage or permitted it to be solemnised or negligently failed to prevent it, would be imprisoned under Sections 9, 10 and 11 of the Act. But no woman would be punishable, the judge said.

The Court of the First Class Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate might also take suo motu cognizance on the basis of valid information. The district magistrate had additional powers to stop or prevent child marriages, he noted.

In case of emergency, the court had the power to issue an interim injunction without giving any notice.

Also, it could, either on its own motion or on the application of any person aggrieved, rescind or alter an injunction issued under Sub-section (1) of the Act, Mr.Kumar pointed out.

The duty of the Child Marriage Prohibition Officers was to counsel the residents of the locality not to indulge in promoting, helping, aiding or allowing child marriages, create awareness and sensitise the community to the ill-effects of child marriages, he advised.

He further said filing of an FIR against child marriage was mandatory.

The police might take appropriate action without hesitation. Even the Collector could reach the marriage spot with sufficient force and stop such marriages.

When the Act was introduced in 1929, the punishment was very mild and the Act was not followed strictly.

Now, it invested the law enforcers with more powers to punish offenders severely.

Chief Judicial Magistrate G.Magizhendahi, Magistrates C.B.Vedhagiri and N. Umarani interacted with judicial staff and police officers and clarified their doubts.