Child marriage is illegal in India, but that did not deter a 56 year old lawyer from marrying a 14 year old girl, without her complete consent. Four years ago, the lawyer married the then minor girl, who was forced into this alliance by her grandparents, 2 of her uncles and lastly by the lawyer himself. The lawyer was a widower with a 12 year old daughter then. The girl was reportedly married off to him as he had offered her grandparents six acres of land. The girl’s mother had died a few years ago due to a sickness. She had filed an FIR against the lawyer, her grandparents and her uncles for forcing her into this marriage in December 2017, reports The Times of India. The FIR was filed at the Kalachowkie police station in Mumbai.
In latest hearing, which took place on Thursday, the Bombay High Court didn’t agree to the lawyer’s plea to not consider the charges against him, which were that of “aggravated sexual assault” and “illegal child marriage.”
Furthermore, He has been instructed to take care of the girl’s education and create a fixed deposit in her name of Rs. 75 Lakh. He is also supposed to transfer 11 acres of land to her. Notably, the Bombay high court bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre refused to squash the charges against him, despite the now adult girl saying that she wanted to “resolve the dispute amicably.”
When the girl turned 18 years old in September last year, she filed an affidavit, saying that now she wanted to stay with the 56 year old lawyer, “quietly as his wife.”
Could set a dangerous precedent
To quote an additional public prosecutor – Aruna Pai, who spoke to Times of India for the said report, “Not only it will send a wrong signal to society against child marriages, it will open flood gates. Tomorrow one may marry an 11 year old and seek a quashing of a case. It will defeat the salutary purpose of the act.”
When the girl turned 18 years old in September last year, she filed an affidavit, saying that now she wanted to stay with the lawyer, “quietly as his wife.”
The lawyer’s statement was that the girl has now given consent after she turned into an adult in last September. Pai responded to this by stating the fact that there was no question of really taking the consent of a girl who was only 14 years of age at the time of the marriage. The very fact that she was married to a man who was 38 years older to her was in its own self an example of statutory rape.
Aruna Pai further said that there can be no memorandum of understanding by the lawyer for giving her land.
Notably, the lawyer was released on bail just after the girl turned 18. This was because the girl wanted to “resolve the dispute amicably.”
The court has placed a hearing after a year next June and in September. This is to get a status update from the girl, with respect to understanding if the lawyer was complying with the given orders.
Image Credit: india.com
Read also: Girl Who Escaped Child Marriage Scores 90% In II PUC Exam
Kavya Shah is an intern at SheThePeople.Tv