May 23, 2017 3:48:43 am
President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the long-pending Prohibition of Child Marriage (Karnataka amendment) Bill, 2016, giving broader powers to the police and increasing the penalty for child marriage. Karnataka is among many states with a high percentage of child marriage cases in south India and according to a survey, 23.2 per cent of such cases are reported from the state, according to the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
The Bill, according to home ministry officials, was delayed for the past several years. It was last amended in 2016 by the state Assembly and sent to the Centre for Presidential nod. The Home Ministry that acts as an administrative ministry for the state Bills and legislation, after consulting other central ministries, had forwarded the Bill to the Presidential secretariat, said a home ministry official.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has been urging the Centre to pass the Bill, saying that his government wants to completely eradicate the social menace in the next few years. The percentage of child marriages has come down from 41.2 per cent in 2005 to 23.2 per cent in 2016, according to the state government. Officials said a majority of cases are reported from north Karnataka which includes Dharwad, Belagavi, Bagalkot and the surrounding districts.
The state government’s amendment to the Karnataka Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, was based on recommendations made by a 2011 committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Shivaraj V Patil. It seeks to ensure zero tolerance towards any child marriage, granting powers to policemen and enhancing penalties for those attending marriage ceremonies of minors.
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