West Bengal has got the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of married girl children at 40 per cent, a survey considered by the Supreme Court has said.
The apex court, which has delivered a historic verdict declaring sexual intercourse with minor wife as rape, quoted the survey in its order, saying the figure of 40.7 per cent of child brides significantly rises to 47 per cent in rural areas of the populous eastern state.
The report said the lowest percentage of child marriages was recorded in Punjab and Kerala at 7.6 per cent.
According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, the states with second and third highest percentage of brides under 18 years of age were Bihar and Jharkhand with 39 and 38 per cent respectively.
The report was submitted before a Supreme Court bench of Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta, which ruled that sex with a wife who is under 18 years of age is an offence under the Indian Penal Code with an imprisonment of up to 10 years.
As per the data which assumes significance in the light of the apex court's verdict, the national capital of India recorded 13 per cent of the child brides in 2015-16, which has come down from 22.7 per cent in 2005-06.
The states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat have 35.4, 25 and 24.9 per cent of child brides, the report said.