Observing that arresting a large number of people in the crackdown against child marriage created "havoc in the private life of people", the Gauhati High Court has said there is no need for custodial interrogation of the accused in such cases.
The court also rapped the Assam government for slapping stringent laws like the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) and rape charges on child marriage accused, and stated that these are "absolutely weird" allegations.
Hearing a batch of petitions by a group of accused for anticipatory bail and interim bail, Justice Suman Shyam allowed all the petitioners to be released on bail with immediate effect.
"These are not matters of custodial interrogation. You (state) 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.
As on February 13, as many as 3,015 people have been arrested in the child marriage crackdown so far in the state, said Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The Assam Police launched the crackdown on child marriage on February 3 and persons belonging to Hindus and Muslims have been apprehended in the crackdown.
The highest number of arrests have been made in the Hojai district which stands at 216. Nagaon comes second where a total of 184 persons were arrested in child marriage cases. Dhubri stands third where a total of 183 persons have been arrested in the Assam government's crackdown against child marriage.
Dhubri has the highest number of registered cases which stands at 383. Nagaon follows Dhurbri with 255 cases registered in the police station. Kokrajhar comes next where 209 cases have been registered against persons involved in child marriage.
On the otherhand, the opposition has slammed the state government and stated that the CM is trying to divert the attention of the people from the core issues of unemployment, price rise, inflation and other by carrying out a drive against child marriage.
“At a time when the Hindenburg report uncovered Adani’s alleged stock manipulation, leading to a stock-market crash, at that time the state government of Assam began its drive against child marriage and began arresting people in old cases, putting many behind bars. We highly condemn this entire drive. We urge the government not to destroy families, and lives of the people by not taking wrong decisions”, said Senior Congress leader Debabrata Saikia.
Saikia further stated while speaking to reporters here in Guwahati on February 15, “This has been proved once again in the verdict of the Gauhati High Court bench today. The court has criticised the government in the strongest terms and clearly stated that the government has lodged a case under the POSCO Act in the name of child marriage and put many people in jail on bizarre charges. That's what we've been saying since the beginning. Child marriage is a disorder in society. We have opposed it too and the government also needs to stay within the limits of the Provisions Act to stop it.
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