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Supreme Court: Sex with minor wife is rape

The Supreme Court on Wednesday passed a new law that if a man is found to be guilty for having sexual intercourse with his underage (below 18 years) wife, will be punished.

In addition, the exception 2 to the section 375 (rape) of the Indian Panel Code read by the bench of justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak. The exception sections to the hateful offence of rape lets a man to have sex with his wife who’s age of 18 years or above.

Verdict terminates inequality

According to this verdict, the court terminates the disparities between the exception to section 375, which permits a husband to make sexual relation with his wife who is 15 years old, and according to the new laws such as the protection of children from sexual offences act, 2012, the definition of ‘Child’ is any person who is below the age of 18 years. The verdict also ends acceptance of exception clause in the IPC provided to minor marriages which was stated illegitimate and a punishable offence, however a social truth mainly in rural part of the nation.

The court had settled with NGO Independent Believed, which filed the written letter challenging the exception, on how when sexual relationship with the minor aged, under 18 with or without her permission to rape under IPC, this is not so once she is married. The NGO had claimed that the exception clause was the violation of the fundamental right to life and equivalence of minors.

The verdict, nonetheless the Bench had told time and again that it did not want to research into the matter of marital rape, now put new marks on the law on marital rape. The Court raised the question the reason for Parliament to make an exception in the column of law stating that the sexual intercourses by a husband with his underage wife is not rape.

It had questioned the reasons behind such an exception in the IPC when the age of consent or approval was 18 years for “all reasons”.

“We don’t want to go in the thought of marital rape. That is on parliament whether they want to increase or decrease the age of consent. But once parliament decided that we have determined 18 years as the age of consent, can they put an exception like this,” The bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had asked the court while the hearings.

“When you recognize the age of consent to be for all purpose, then why this exception,” it had asked. The Government counsel had secured the exception as something parliament had put due consideration and thought about.

While the hearing, the bench of justice referred to aspect of child marriages and voiced that despite there being law that detained it unlawful, the practice was still going on. “Whether or not, child marriage is a social reality and for 70 years we have not been able to remove it”, the Bench had observed.

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