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Sex with minor wife is rape: Supreme Court

KalingaTV News Network

Supreme Court of IndiaNew Delhi: In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that sex with a minor wife aged between 15 and 18 years is rape and amounts to a punishable offence.

A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta expressed concern over the prevalent practice of child marriage in the country, saying the exception in the rape law was arbitrary and was violative of the Constitution.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which defines the offence of rape, has an exception clause that says intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape.

“Exception 2 in Section 375 of IPC granting protection to husband is violative of constitution and fundamental rights of minor bride,” said the apex court.

The court said the exception in the rape law was contrary to the philosophy of other statutes and violates the bodily integrity of a girl child.

Justice Gupta said the age of marriage was 18 in all laws and the exception given in the rape law under the IPC is capricious, arbitrary and violates the rights of a girl child.

The apex court said the exception is violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution. It asked the Centre and the states to take proactive steps to prohibit child marriage across the country.

The court also voiced concern over thousands of minor girls being married in mass wedding ceremonies on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya.