Sex with Wife Aged Below 18 Years will Amount to Rape: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI:
The Supreme Court ruled that sex with wife aged between 15 and 18 years would be a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code. The apex court said an exception in the rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary. The matter was listed before a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta.
The court also expressed concern over the practice of child marriage, saying social justice laws are not implemented with the spirit they had been enacted in. “The exception in rape law under the IPC is contrary to other statutes, violates bodily integrity of girl child,” the bench said. It, however, clarified that it has not dealt with the issue of marital rape.
The Supreme Court asked the Centre and state governments to take proactive steps to prohibit child marriages across the country. It voiced concern over thousands of minor girls being married in mass wedding ceremonies on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya.
The petition by NGO Independent Thought had challenged the exception clause (2) in Section 375 IPC (which deals with rape) that says intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape. This created a dichotomy as the age of consent was 18 years, it was contended.
The petitioners prayed that the clause be struck down as it is “violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution”. The petitioners contended that the exception clause went against the objectives of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and was also in violation of international conventions to which India was a signatory.

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