The Gauhati High Court has raised concerns about the application of the stringent law designed to safeguard children from sexual crimes in Assam’s extensive crackdown on child marriages.
Over 3,000 individuals suspected of involvement in child marriages have been arrested and placed in temporary detention facilities in Assam, prompting objections from women who argue that the sole wage earners of their families have been apprehended.
The legality of utilising the POCSO Act in child marriage situations has been questioned by experts, and the police’s approach of investigating cases that go back several years has also come under scrutiny.
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On Tuesday, the Gauhati High Court granted pre-arrest bail to nine individuals who were charged under the POCSO Act, one of which carried a minimum sentence of 20 years. The court opined that custodial interrogation was unnecessary in such cases.
Justice Suman Shyam stated that adding POCSO to a case does not mean that judges will overlook other aspects. The court is not trying to exonerate anyone, and investigations can be conducted without hindrance.
In a different case, the judge questioned whether rape was alleged and dismissed the allegations as ‘weird’. The court believes that at this time, there is no need for custodial interrogation in these matters and suggested that a chargesheet be filed if someone is found guilty, said Justice Shyam.
The current crackdown on child marriage in Assam has caused a great deal of disruption in the private lives of families, involving children, elderly individuals, and other family members.
Also Read: Assam child-marriage arrests divide civil society; some say it’s not a solution
While the idea of child marriage is undoubtedly a bad one, the issue currently at hand is whether or not those involved should all be arrested and imprisoned.
More than 4,000 police cases were filed on February 3 as part of the crackdown, which has been promoted by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma as a means of addressing the state’s poor health metrics.
The Chief Minister has declared that the campaign against this social evil will persist, and he has asked for the support of the people of Assam in the fight against this social crime.
Opposition parties have voiced their criticism regarding the implementation of the crackdown, denouncing the arrests of adolescent husbands and family members as an exploitation of the law for political purposes. They have also likened the police action to “terrorising people.”
Also Read: Child marriages: Assam crackdown attacks the symptom, ignores the problem