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MP: Economic Survey Reveals Scam in Marriage Assistance Schemes During Lockdown

Kashif Kakvi |
This is the second such case of irregularity that has come to light in the state’s scheme for marriages. Earlier, the state’s Economic Offences Wing unearthed a 30-crore scam into the Marriage Assistance Scheme in Sironj tehsil of Vidisha district
SC criticizes families’ rejection of inter-caste, inter-faith marriages; suggests counseling for police to manage such cases

Bhopal: Hinting at yet another scam, the recently released Economic Survey report reveals that despite the ban on weddings in COVID-19 induced lockdown, over Rs 150 crore was distributed to 24,799 couples under Madhya Pradesh’s marriage assistance scheme in the last two years.

This happened when the Social Justice department put all the marriage assistance schemes on hold during the said period.

This is the second such case of irregularity that has come to light in the state’s scheme for marriages. Earlier, the state’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) unearthed a 30-crore scam into the Marriage Assistance Scheme in Sironj tehsil of Vidisha district, which took place in lockdown and registered an FIR against CEO Sironj Janpad Panchayat, for cheating, embezzlement, prevention of corruption act and suspended him.

According to the latest Economic Survey Report tabled in Vidhan Sabha on March 8, 2022, as many as 23,107 weddings took place in 2020-21 and 759 in 2021-22 under Kanya Vivah, Nikah, Divyang and Kalyani scheme and over Rs 150 crores distributed to the couples. The report further pointed out that only Kalyani and Divyang marriages took place in the last two years as the mass marriage under Kanya Vivah and Nikah were prohibited.

Madhya Pradesh government runs five marriage assistance schemes. Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojna, Mukhyamantri Nikah Yojna for Muslims and Mukhyamantri Kalyani Vivah Yojna for widows and Divyang Vivah for physically disabled couples under the social justice department, while the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan scheme was launched by Labour Department in 2016 to provide financial assistance to the daughters of registered worker of MP Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.

In Kanya Vivah, Nikah and Kanyadan, the government offers financial assistance of Rs 51,000, while in the Kalyani scheme for widows, it offers Rs 2 lakh to the bride, whereas in Divyang, it offers Rs 1 lakh if both are disabled but offers Rs 2 lakh if a non-disabled person ties a knot with disabled. As per the scheme, weddings can only be carried out through mass marriage with a minimum of five couples at a time.

“All the mass marriage schemes were on hold in the last two years owing to the COVID-19 restrictions,” said Manoj Tiwari, joint director of the social justice department. “Only marriages under Divyang and Kalyani occurred in the said duration.”

When asked how over 23,000 couples married under Kanya Vivah and Nikah scheme and the government provided assistance if mass marriages were prohibited, he replied, “The economic survey data reflects the pending cases of previous years that were unpaid and cleared during the lockdown.”


In the Jabalpur district alone, over 2,543 weddings took place in lockdown. Close to Rs 13 crore was given to the beneficiaries, replied the government in the recently concluded budget session to a question raised by Jabalpur Congress MLA Tarun Bahnot over the marriages that took place in lockdown.

In the Sironj block of Vidisha district, over 5,976 weddings took place under the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojna between April 2019 to May 2021 and Rs 30 crore was paid to the beneficiaries, state’s Mineral Resources and Labour minister Brijendra Pratap Singh said in a reply in the Assembly on Wednesday. In the same period, Sironj municipal area spent Rs 40.8 lakh on eight weddings, while the Lateri municipality spent Rs 76.5 lakh on 15 weddings under the scheme.

BJP MLA first pointed out the scam in the marriage assistance scheme from Sironj Umakant Sharma after two couples complained that they hadn’t received the amount of the scheme. Subsequently, on December 22, 2021, Sharma raised a question in the Assembly seeking details of wedding and money given to beneficiaries in Sironj block from Brijendra Pratap Singh, the state labour minister in Vidhan Sabha.

In reply to Sharma’s question, Singh said that a total of Rs 30.4 crores had been provided to 5,976 beneficiaries of the scheme in the Sironj Janpad panchayat. Sharma demanded a state-wide investigation into the scheme.

After Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan expressed displeasure over the matter, the case was transferred to the EOW, which subsequently unearthed a scam to the tune of Rs 18 crores and filed an FIR against Shobhit Tripathi, CEO, Sironj Janpad Panchayat, for Cheating, Embezzlement, and Prevention of Corruption Act, and suspended him. Shobhit, the brother-in-law of PWD minister Gopal Bhargava, allegedly defrauded the money during the lockdown through the Marriage Assistance Scheme in Sironj.

According to the EOW, during the investigation, Shobhit spent more than Rs 18 crores on 3,500 beneficiaries under the marriage assistance scheme between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. However, the further probe revealed that the beneficiaries consisted of many individuals already married. The marriages for which the then CEO of Siron Janpad Panchayat withdrew the amount never took place as the government had banned mass weddings due to the COVID-19 restrictions. It was found that the money was never transferred to the bank accounts of the alleged beneficiaries and that Tripathi had carried out a scam.

The investigation also revealed that Tripathi claimed to have assisted Rs 51,000 to individuals who did not even apply for marriage but was shown married in papers. After the matter came to the notice of the authorities, officers even tried tampering with the evidence. The EOW has cast a state-wide net and may probe a whopping 50,000 weddings under various state government schemes.

“When the COVID-19 was ravaging the state, killing countless people and the government had put the marriage assistance scheme on hold, it’s strange that over 23,000 weddings took place in the state,” said Tarun Bhanot. “I have sought names of the beneficiaries of the marriage assistance scheme in Jabalpur to conduct door-to-door surveys and check the corruption. But the government is not providing the list of beneficiaries and dodging the question even in the Assembly.

Despite repeated attempts, the social justice department minister Prem Singh Patel did not respond to the calls.

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