Sex with wife below 18 is rape – SC

Sex with wife below 18 is rape - SC (Supreme Court)

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 (IPC). The apex court said an exception in the Rape Law is discriminatory 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. 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.

Everything You need to Know About Rape Law (Section 375) in Indian Penal Code (IPC) :-

Section 375 :-  Rape.—A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following de­scriptions:—

  1. Against her will.
  2. Without her consent.
  3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.
  4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be law­fully married.
  5. With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupe­fying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
  6. With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age. Explanation.—Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.
(Exception) —Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

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