Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have earned the dubious distinction of being at the top two spots in the list of child marriages in the country accounting for 40 percent of such incidents in a single year.
Even the national capital has recorded one such incident in the year 2008, according to the latest government data prepared by the National Crime Records Bureau.
This is only the second case reported from Delhi in this decade. It had recorded one such incident in 2003.
A total of 104 cases of child marriage were reported across the country in 2008, which is an 8.3 percent increase over the previous year's figure of 96.
While 23 cases were reported from Gujarat, the NCRB report noted that Andhra Pradesh reported 19.
In 2007, Andhra topped the list with 19 cases while Gujarat was at second spot with 14 cases.
According to previous reports of the NCRB, Gujarat had found its place among states recording highest cases of child marriage every year this decade.
Since 2001, Gujarat has recorded 164 cases of child marriages with the state recording the highest of 38 in the year 2002. It had reported 11 cases the previous year.
In 2003, Gujarat has 11 cases while it had 30 cases in 2004, 25 in 2005 and 12 cases in 2006.
The other states which reported child marriage cases in 2008 are: Karnataka (9), Bihar (8), Punjab and West Bengal (6 each), Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra (5 each), Haryana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu (4 each), Rajasthan (3), Himachal and Madhya Pradesh (2 each) and Assam, Goa and Orissa (one each).
Child marriage is prohibited in the country under the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929.
As per the Act, a child is a person who, if a male has not completed 21 years of age and if a female, has not completed 18 years of age.
According to the Act, for a child marriage, the parent or guardian concerned maybe punished with a simple imprisonment, which may extend to three months and a fine. Those who solemnise the wedding also face the same punishment.
Similarly, a male above 18 years and below 21, entering into wedlock with a child, shall be punishable with simple imprisonment, which may extend to 15 days or with fine that may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.A male above 21 years marrying a child shall be punishable with simple imprisonment, which may extend to three months and shall also be liable to fine.