By Sujit Chakraborty
The Tripura High Court has taken suo-motu cognisance of the media report on the sale of a poverty-stricken 14-year-old girl into marriage to a man in Rajasthan and now lodged in a shelter home in that state, a court official said on Friday.
IANS had on June 16 highlighted the sufferings of the teenage girl, now sheltered at the Swadhara Women Home at Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Subhashish Talapatra, initiating the suo motu PIL on Wednesday, ordered issuance of notices to six authorities, including the Tripura government and the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) about the girl’s trafficking and her subsequent travails.
“We can only imagine the current mental state of the girl. We would request all respondents to mull and suggest appropriate ways to ensure the safety and security of the minor girl. In particular, suggestions may be made on the next date of hearing by the respondents, as to how the girl can be brought back to Tripura at the earliest, and as and when she is brought back, how to ensure her safety and well-being,” the court observed.
The court official said that those issued notices also included the Tripura State Human Rights Commission, Tripura State Legal Services Authority, Tripura Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and Unakoti District Magistrate.
To add to the teenager’s woes, she was said to be two-and-a-half months pregnant, a result of her so-called “marriage” with the Rajasthan resident who claims to be her “husband”.
The case was unearthed when the girl fled the Rajasthan man’s house. On May 2, the man filed a missing complaint in Mandawa police station, claiming that his “wife” had gone missing.
Police traced her on May 4, but the teenager refused to go with the person and sought protection, leading to Jhunjhunu Sub-Divisional Magistrate to order her lodging at the Jhunjhunu shelter home.
Rajasthan State Commission of Protection of Child Rights’ (RSCPCR) senior member Shailendra Pandya had taken up the girl’s case with the NCPCR, which then asked Unakoti District Superintendent of Police Ratiranjan Debnath to submit a factual report about the teenager.
“We had immediately sent a detailed factual report to the national panel on the case. The girl’s family is extremely poor. Before sending the report, we talked to the family but they are not serious to take her back. They never informed police about her going missing,” the district police chief told IANS.
When contacted for comments, Tripura child rights panel chair Nilima Ghosh told IANS earlier on that she was “not aware” of the matter and would talk to police and Child Welfare Committee in Unakoti.
While the Jhunjhunu SDM had directed the Mandawa police to reinvestigate the case, the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights had directed the Child Welfare Committee to file an FIR against the accused “husband” under the Juvenile Justice Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, and anti-trafficking law.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)