Sex with minor wife is rape: Supreme Court        

In a landmark judgment, 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.

“If a minor wife complains of forced sexual intercourse within a year of marriage, police needs to take action,” the court said hearing a petition that called for the scrapping of a provision in the rape law that allowed a man to have sex with his underage wife even without consent.

Before today’s SC ruling, there was an exception in Section 375 rape law provisions that protected a man who had sexual relations with his wife even if she was under 18, which is the age of consent.

“Exception 2 in Section 375 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) granting protection to the husband is the violation of the constitution and fundamental rights of minor bride”,
 says Supreme Court.
The top court’s verdict upholds the rights of 2.3 crore child brides in the country.

The verdict will come into effect for future instances and have no bearing on marriages already solemnized, the court said.

The legal age for marriage in India is 18, but child marriages, are not uncommon, especially in the rural parts of the country.

The SC rejected the plea of the Centre which justified the provision on the grounds that child marriage is a reality in the country and such marriage has to be protected.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur had on September 6 asked the Centre how Parliament could create an exception in a law when the age of consent is 18.

Responding to the query, the Centre’s counsel had said if this exception under the IPC goes, then it would open up the arena of marital rape which does not exist in India.

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