GUWAHATI: The Assam government’s crackdown on child marriage that led to the arrest of thousands of people drew tough questions from the Gauhati high court, which granted anticipatory bail to nine people while observing that the drive had created “havoc in the private lives of people”. It said “these are not matters for custodial interrogation”.
Justice Suman Shyam observed, orally, that the charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and rape charges against child marriage accused are “absolutely weird” allegations.
“…There are children, family members, old people… obviously it is a bad idea,” the judge said on Tuesday.
You proceed as per law, we have nothing to say. If you find somebody guilty, file a chargesheet. Let him or her face trial and if they are convicted, they are convicted,” the judge said.
Granting immediate bail to the nine people who had moved court, Justice Shyam observed, “If marriage is taking place in violation of law, the law will take its own course… We will only consider if immediate custodial interrogation is required or not. At this moment, this 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, stolen property cases.”
Justice Shyam asked the government advocate, “What do you get by custodial interrogation? Either he has abetted or he has not. Either it’s a case of child marriage or it is not. For that, is it necessary to have custodial interrogation? What is the idea behind this?”
Till February 14, a total of 3,031 people have been apprehended against the registration of 4,225 child marriage cases. The crackdown had started on February 3 with 4,004 FIRs.
When the government advocate pointed out that cases were registered under non-bailable charges under the Pocso Act and rape under IPC Sec 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? We are not acquitting anyone here. No one is preventing you to probe (sic).” “Why Section 376 (of IPC)? Is there any allegation of rape here? These are all weird allegations,” the judge observed.
The judge also sought the opinion of Angshuman Bora, a well-known criminal lawyer, on the large-scale arrests. Bora said, “They are not dreaded criminals. At this stage, they (state) can file the chargesheet and subsequently, when the matter comes up in court, it will be decided as per the law.” Bora also said the message against child marriage can also otherwise be given by filing the chargesheet and sensitising people instead of “arresting everyone”.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *