Udaipur : In a case of utter negligence and irresponsibility, one of the Gram Panchayat in Kherwada tehsil of the district, not only failed in fulfilling its obligation to prevent child marriage, but on the contrary endorsed the act by issuing a marriage certificate to a 13-year old girl. The panchayat further recommended financial assistance to the guilty family under a social welfare scheme.
The incident came to light after a media report on the social welfare department office here that rejected an application under the Sahyog Yojana to grant fund to a BPL family belonging to the scheduled caste. The applicant Shankarlal Rawal, a resident of Kharadiwada under Pahada gram panchayat in Kherwada had submitted marriage certificate of his daughter Himani with one Sanjay Rawal alongwith the application form two months ago. In the mandatory age proof document of the bride , Himani’s class 7 marksheet had been submitted which indicated her date of birth to be July 7, 2003 while the BPL ration card indicated the girls age as thirteen, both cases, a minor. Upon scrutiny of the documents, the department officials rejected the application for the reason that the bride was a minor though they didn’t report the matter further to higher authorities. As per the documents, the wedding took place on May 17 this year and the Secretary of Pahada gram panchayat issued the marriage certificate on May 25. The girl is told to be reading in class 8th currently. The Kherwada Panchayat Samiti had allegedly , recommended for sanction of fund under the scheme and later exercised pressure on the officials when they rejected the file. “ This marriage is in contravention to the essential conditions laid for a marriage under section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act and hence illegal, null and void” opined Dr Dharmesh Kumar Jain, a law expert. “It is shocking to know a panchayat issued marriage certificate to a child, we will look into the case” said Bhagwat Singh Sankhla, a member of the child welfare committee.
In 2012, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had slammed the state government for not checking child marriages and indirectly providing financial aid for the unlawful act under various social welfare schemes. After the CAG report pointed out, in many cases, the financial assistance given away without verifying age certificates , it was since made mandatory to furnish age proof for grant of funds under the scheme.
Sahayog Yojana- The scheme was launched in April 2005 and amended in 2009 which provides financial assistance of Rs.10,000 per girl to BPL families of Scheduled Castes for marriage of their first two girls between the age group of 18 and 21 years. The applicant can apply for the scheme in the time limit of one month before the marriage to six months of wedding of his or her daughter.