Girl annuls child marriage; panchayat slaps Rs 16 lakh fine on her

Jodhpur: A girl in a Jodhpur village decided to annul her marriage which was solemnized in her infancy, prompting a kangaroo court to slap a hefty fine of Rs 16 lakh reportedly on her and ostracize her family from the community.

Santadevi Meghwal, belonging to Rohichan Khurd village in Luni tehsil in Jodhpur, decided to call off her marriage which was finalised when she was 11-month-old in a ceremony.

Her decision has irked the village panchayat to impose a fine of Rs 16 lakh on her and banished her family from the community, she claimed.

“My decision (to call off the marriage) incensed my in- laws and they resorted to every tactic to pressurize us to continue with the marriage by issuing varied threats.

“When I did not give in, they (panchayat) slapped a penalty of Rs 16 lakh on us and ostracized my family,” said Santadevi, currently in graduation.

The girl, who learnt about her child marriage about three years back, is continuing with her studies and has contacted Sarathi Trust for legal recourse.

“We are preparing for legal action against the members of caste panchayat on one hand and are also trying to counsel her in-laws to bring them round for marriage annulment on the other,” said Kriti Bharti, Managing Trustee of the Sarathi Trust.

Her father Padmaram, who is a mason, said that he wants her daughter to be educated and be a light to the society by renouncing the “evil social practices”.

Home Minister Gulab Chand Katariya has pledged the government’s assistance if Santadevi’s family files a police case.



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