The Karnataka State Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to the Justice Shivaraj V Patil committee's recommendation of declaring child marriages null and void, Deccan Herald reported.
The government, which is all set to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, also decided to empower police officers to book suo motu cases against those found conducting child marriages.
Currently, police can act against those found to be involved in conducting child marriages only after a complaint is registered by the jurisdictional magistrate or officials of the social welfare or women and child development departments, The New Indian Express reported.
The government has also decided to fix the minimum punishment at one year imprisonment which can be extended to two years.
The NIE report states, "Under the present Act, the guilty are liable for punishment with up to two years of imprisonment and up to `1 lakh fine. Since there is no specification on the minimum period of imprisonment, many walk out after imprisonment of just a month or two."
Child marriages which are conducted on and after the amendment to the Act will be annulled.
Deccan Herald report further states, "Currently, a child marriage can be nullified only if the child complains and seeks that the marriage be declared illegal. The Justice Patil panel, therefore, recommended that the Act should be amended, declaring child marriage null and void.
The Cabinet also approved a proposal to penalise the priests, the parents and the organisers of child marriage. The panel has also recommended punishment for elected representatives, including legislators, taking part in child marriages."