Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court: In an application seeking anticipatory bail in a case involving alleged forced child marriage, a division bench comprising of Harish Tandon and Supratim Bhattacharya, JJ., after considering the victim’s statement indicating her unwillingness to marry the petitioner, denied the anticipatory bail to the accused-petitioner.

The instant matter involves the alleged forcible marriage of a minor girl by a 21 old boy. The petitioners approached the court seeking anticipatory bail in connection with the case registered under Sections 363 and 365 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The victim girl, in her statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC), stated that she was forced into the marriage against her will.

The Court was shocked that despite legal prohibitions against child marriage and societal awareness efforts, such incidents continue to occur, particularly in economically disadvantaged communities. The Court emphasised on the need for societal introspection and reform to prevent such occurrences. The Court stressed on the detrimental impact of child marriage on the physical and societal development of the minor victim.

“A Society has to introspect in this regard and the efforts are required to sensitize its inmates not to indulge in such marriages as the minor girl has not developed herself biologically to procreate the child. It has a cascading effect not only on the body of a minor victim girl but has a larger ramification on the development of the society and it is need of the hour that the mindset of the society is to be reformed.”

Considering the victim’s statement indicating her unwillingness to marry the petitioner 1, the Court deemed it inappropriate to grant immunity from arrest. The Court also emphasised on the importance of sensitization and awareness programs and directed the Woman and Child Department of West Bengal to organize a seminar to raise awareness and sensitize the society regarding the prevention of marriages involving minors or individuals who have not attained the legal age of marriage.

[Samir Barman v. State of W.B., 2024 SCC OnLine Cal 2726, order dated 20-02-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Arijit Ghosh, Ms. Swarnali Ghosh, Counsel for the Petitioners

Mr. Abhijit Sarkar, Mr. Tapan Bhattacharjee, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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