Mumbai :  The Bombay High Court has upheld the conviction of nine people who acted like members of a “Khap Panchayat” in a village of adjoining Raigad district and forcibly married off a boy and a girl, both minors, against wishes of their parents in 1994.

“Every person has a right to choose his/her partner. In a child marriage, on decision taken by a Panchayat, such right to choose is violated if it (marriage) is performed,” said Justice Mridula Bhatkar in a judgement on April 29.

The court was hearing the appeal of the nine people who had challenged their conviction. They had been sentenced to different jail terms under Child Marriage (Restraint) Act and IPC for kidnapping the boy and the girl.

According to prosecution, the accused had objected to the boy and the girl meeting quite often in the village and asked their mothers to get them married. However, the parents refused because the two were minors. Village Panchayat members then forcibly took away the girl and the boy from the custody of their parents and got them married on January 9, 1994.

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