To 15 May 2017
National Human Rights Commission
Manav Adhikar Bhawan
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA,
New Delhi – 110023
Child marriage is prohibited in India by virtue of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. But still due to lack of education, legal support and improper implementation of the legislation, the incidents of child marriage as well as matters connected therewith or incidental thereto are still reality in India.
One such case is of Nirjali, a girl from Anukhan village under Kandi Police Station, District-Murshidabad, West Bengal. She is no more in this world as she committed suicide when her parents arranged her marriage which was not acceptable to her.
Nirjali Bagdi was a student of class-XI at Bahara Acharya Ramendrasundar Kanya Vidyapith. She was only 17 years of age. She got 349 marks in her secondary examination held in 2016. She also appeared for her final year examination at class-XI. She wanted to continue her education but her parents arranged her marriage. She heard the problems of child marriage in a programme organized at her school on 11.03.2017 on prohibition of child marriage. On 20.04.2017 she committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree inside the courtyard of her residence. Two of her elder sisters were given marriage at their age of 16 to 17 years. She belonged to Scheduled Caste community. Her family members are daily wage earners. They are poor and marginalized. The police registered one unnatural death case i.e. Kandi Police Station UD Case no. 67/2017. If Nirjali was compelled to commit suicide under pressure to get married burying her dreams to pursue higher studies, then she is a victim of unacceptable circumstances such as societal norms and pressure, feeling that she had no life of her own.
Legal aspect of the incident
Section 11 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 punishes any act to promote and to permit to be solemnized the marriage of a child and negligently fails to prevent it. The police in this present incident did not register any FIR against the family members who were in charge of Nirjali under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The Child Marriage Prohibition Officer also did not collect any evidence in this present incident for the effective prosecution of persons contravening the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. There is a clear indication that the authorities are reluctant to implement the protective law.
I hope that the Commission would make an intervention in the present case and I hope that the Commission would consider my following demands of justice for the victim:-
- The whole matter should be inquired by an independent inquiring authority preferably by the Commission’s own investigating wing.
- The persons involved in contravening the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 in the present incident must be booked under the law by registering FIR against them.
- The authorities concerned must be reprimanded for not implementing the provisions of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 by their deliberate omission to perform lawful duty.
- Any other action as the Commission may deem fit and proper.
National Convener, PACTI