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The Supreme Court today voiced serious concern over mass child marriages being performed across the country during the spring festival of Akshaya Tritiya and said the government should take proactive steps to prevent such weddings.
Minor girls are married in thousands in the country and subjected to sexual intercourse regardless of their health, their ability to bear children and other adverse social, economic and psychological consequences, the top court said.
"Young girls are married in thousands in the country, and as Section 13 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) indicates, there is an auspicious day Akshaya Trutiya - when mass child marriages are performed.
"Such young girls are subjected to sexual intercourse regardless of their health, their ability to bear children and other adverse social, economic and psychological consequences," the bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. Akshay Tritiya is a spring time festival celebrated by the Hindus.
It said that though the civil society was doing its part to prevent such child marriages but eventually it is for the Centre and the state governments to take proactive steps to prevent child marriages so that young girls in our country can aspire to a better and healthier life.
"We hope the State realises and appreciates this," the bench said.
The top court said the Preamble to the Constitution talks about social justice, but "unfortunately" the social justice laws are not implemented in the spirit in which they are enacted by Parliament.
It said that as a first step, child marriages were criminalised by enacting the PCMA in 2006 but no corresponding amendment was made to Section 375 of the IPC, as it existed in 2006, to decriminalise marital rape of a girl child.
The bench said it hoped that the Centre and the state governments would intensively study and analyse the plethora of reports on the issue and take an informed decision on the effective implementation of the PCMA and actively prohibit child marriages which encouraged sexual intercourse with a girl child.