The Gauhati High Court has raised tough questions over Assam Government’s involvement in the child marriage crackdown.
The Gauhati High Court on Tuesday granted pre-arrest bail to nine of the individuals who were charged under the POSCO act amid the ongoing crackdown on child marriage in Assam.
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 charged the Government for slapping stringent laws like the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) and rape charges on child marriage accused, and stated that these are "absolutely weird" allegations.
Hearing a batch of petitions by a group of accused for anticipatory bail and interim bail, Justice Suman Shyam allowed all the petitioners to be released on bail with immediate effect.
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.”
Till February 14, as many as 3,031 people have been arrested against registration of 4,225 child marriage cases. The crackdown had started on February 3 with 4,004 FIRs.
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.”