Sex with wife aged below 18 years will amount to rape: Supreme Court

"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.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 11, 2017 6:14 pm
rape, age of consent, sc age of consent, child marriage, sex with minor wife rape, sc rape verdict, 18 year old wife, supreme court, marital rape Supreme Court of India (File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday 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 top 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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  1. J
    James
    Oct 12, 2017 at 12:34 pm
    How about banning dating and gf bf having ? What is 18 is it a holy figure? how about 17 band 16?if a women is married says the court, her husband can have with her even if she is less than 18 but above 15 years of age!!! what a piece of wisdom,speaks volumes about those judges there in SC.
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    1. P
      precluder
      Oct 12, 2017 at 9:18 am
      Protecting the bodily integrity of a child is of paramount importance in a civilized society. The Supreme court, however, is overshooting its limits. The Courts seem to be more concerned about the exactness of legal limits than being practical. For example, though not considered eligible for vote, a 16 year old is totally capable of driving a gear-less 2 wheeler and also of raping a woman. This was exactly the grounds on which the main rapist of Nirbhaya escaped when others were hanged. Similarly a 16 year old woman (girl in modern language), is has already past puberty and not biologically a child. The way I see it, this ruling of Supreme Court is testing the waters for criminalization of marital rape which enables women to arbitrarily accuse their husbands as rapists and put them behind bars. Another immoral law in making.
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      1. R
        RajKumar
        Oct 12, 2017 at 7:32 am
        Once again Supreme Court has done its duty well and passed a historic judgment. This country is surviving because of the courts. Look at the BJP govt clowns defending child all under the excuse of a child marriage, violating the dignity of a person. BJP should change name to Sharia party and wear a head cap like the mullahs of Iran.
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        1. P
          PK
          Oct 12, 2017 at 1:18 am
          Ah the comment section is a troll-fest from all sides. Anyway welcome the verdict.
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          1. Patnam Umamaheshwaran
            Oct 11, 2017 at 8:19 pm
            Are there any law to arrest those who run away leaving wife untouched .. it is also ual cruelty is it not
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            1. ሆልይ ትርንትይ
              Oct 11, 2017 at 8:27 pm
              ना तलाक़ दिया ना घर बसाया. This amounts to vegetarian murder.
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