The Child Marriage Restraint Act, that is. While woman asks police to take action against former swamini, who married her underage son, the police say the law is silent on how to proceed
The police are clueless about how to respond to the complaint lodged by Ratnamma, whose son Chetan, has, at the age of 20, married 32-year-old Nivedita, a sanyasin, who gave up her robes for love.
Following the wedding on Monday, Ratnamma lodged a complaint against Nivedita with the Chitradurga police under the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929.
Police officers at the station say that while the Act does prescribe punitive action against a man who marries a female minor, it is silent on the situation where a senior woman a male below the permissible age for marriage.
Ratnamma is pressing for action against Nivedita and the media has also turned its glare on the developments in the case.
"I am not sure what exactly we can do," admits Labhu Ram, superintendent of police, Chitradurga. "Ratnamma has given us documents to prove her son is a minor.
We are, however, yet to obtain the marriage certificate. For the time being, I can tell you the investigation is on."
Ratnamma had earlier lodged a case of kidnapping against Nivedita. She accused Nivedita of abducting Chetan, who later clarified that he was with Nivedita by choice.
"After we recorded Chetan’s statement, Ratnamma lodged a fresh complaint that alleges that her son is below the permissible age for marriage. We are deliberating on what steps we can take," said Labhu Ram.
Ratnamma is reportedly in a big hurry to get the marriage annuled, as Chetan becomes 21 in another eight months, after which, he is allowed by law to marry the woman he pleases.
Chetan’s driving licence and transfer certificate is in possession of media and confirmed that he is less than 21-years-old. The certificate mentions his age as February 1, 1990.
"I am ready to move the High Court, if the police fail to act on my complaint," said Ratnamma.
"But, my concern is that we don’t have much time on our hands. I want to liberate my son from this vicious trap before the law allows his marriage with Nivedita."
She added that she was contemplating taking the police to court. She felt the police had failed to discharge their duty and was negligent in the matter. However, the police say Ratnamma is unlikely to achieve much.
"There are no stringent laws to punish the accused in such cases," said H S Chandramouli, the state public prosecutor. "Since the boy will turn 21 within a year, it should not be a serious case," he added.