The Maharashtra government under- reported the cases of child marriage during 2012-2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General has said.
The CAG has also pointed out the government’s “lackadaisical attitude” in implementation of Child Marriage Prohibition Act of 2007.
During 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, 378 and 627 girls respectively, in the age group of 10-14 years and registered under “Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health” (ARSH) programme of the Union government, were married in the state.
Similarly, 11,389 and 11,839 girls in the age group of 15-19 years, registered under this programme, were married in 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively.
“The government reported only 45 cases of child marriage between 2010 and 2013. This gives a clear impression that child marriage cases in the state were being under-reported,” the CAG says.
The report, tabled in the state legislature last week, says though the Union Government promulgated Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in January 2007, Maharashtra government notified the rules under it only in September 2008.
“The Government of Maharashtra may prepare POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) guidelines expeditiously…To assist the child victims during pre-trial and trial stage,” the report recommends.
Though the government should have immediately appointed Child Marriage Prohibition Officers who are supposed to stop such marriages, create awareness, help in prosecution, etc., the notification for appointments in rural areas was issued after a delay of more than six years, in June 2013.