Punjab Assembly approves harsher punishments in Child Marriage Act

LAHORE: A bill proposing an amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 has been approved by the Punjab Assembly. Under the new law, parents and clerics who allow the marriage of underage children will face greater penalties than they had under previous versions of the law.Among the revisions to the law are the imposition of a six-month prison term and a fine of Rs50,000. In addition, there will be a prison sentence and fine imposed on the cleric overlooking the marriage ceremony. Previously, parents faced a month-long prison sentence and a fine of Rs1,000, while clerics were not penalized in any way. The changes have been made after the Punjab Assembly had, earlier this year, discussed the possibility of amendments to the law. The Sindh Assembly passed a Child Marriage Restraint Act in 2013, making it the first provincial assembly to do so.In December last year, Justice Shaiq Qazi had emphasised the need for clarity regarding child marriage legislation. INP

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