New Delhi: Child marriage "is an evil worse than rape" and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court while ordering registration of a case against a girl's parents for getting her married at a tender age.
Metropolitan magistrate Shivani Chauhan issued the direction while hearing a case of dowry harassment filed by the girl's parents against her husband and in-laws.
While ordering lodging of case, the court held that "giving and taking dowry is punishable under the law".
The court directed the police to register a case under the appropriate provisions of the "Prohibition of Child Marriage Act" and under the Dowry Prohibition Act against the parents of the 14-year-old girl as well as her in-laws, against whom a domestic violence case was already registered.
"Child marriage is an evil worst than rape and should be completely eradicated from the society. This would not be possible if the stakeholders like State fail to take appropriate action against the offenders.
"The court is not expected to sit as a mute spectator and let the evil perpetrate," the magistrate said while directing the DCP, South, to file status report by October 19.
The court pulled up the girl's parents, saying that they too had committed a "serious offence".
"There are serious outcomes of child marriage. It is the worst form of domestic violence against the child, not only by the respondents (husband and his family)but also by her own parents.
"Child brides have a diminished chance of completing their education and are at a higher risk of being physically abused, contracting HIV and other diseases, and dying while pregnant or giving birth," the magistrate observed, adding that luckily this girl was "healthy".
"... But this does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the offence which her own parents, relatives and the husband are alleged to have committed upon her person," the court added.