The country's apex body for child rights has sought an explanation within two days from former Madhya Pradesh minister Sajjan Singh Verma over his comment that even a 15-year-old girl is capable of reproduction.
The Congress leader had made the remark at a press conference in Bhopal on Wednesday while targeting Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over his demand for a debate on the parity in the legal age of marriage for both sexes.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in a letter to Verma said that it is deeply concerned with such statements made on public platforms. Statements like these will harm and violate the rights of children, it said.
Verma had said, "Pandrah saal (15 years) ke baad hi bacchi prajnan yogya ho jati hai, aisa doctors kahte hai' (Doctors say a girl becomes capable of reproduction after she becomes 15-years-old). Has he (Chouhan) become a bigger doctor?".
He was reacting to Chouhan's call for a debate on whether a woman's current legal age for marriage (18 years) be raised at par with men (21 years).
Referring to the former minister's remarks, the NCPCR said such "unverified statements, contradicting the prescribed laws for minor girls, is liable to action for discriminating against minor girls and for non-adherence to principles of rights of children".
"It is further to be noted that such statements being made by a person holding public office on a public platform is susceptible to public debate which would incite the public to commit offence against public tranquillity, as such statements are discriminatory and derogatory in nature to minor girls," the child rights body said.
"Hence, in pursuance to the functions assigned to the commission you are requested to provide an explanation within two days of issue of this letter giving reasons and justifying your intention for making such discriminatory statement against minor girls and the law of the land on public platform," the NCPCR said in its letter issued on Wednesday.