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SC criminalises sex with minor wife aged between 15 and 18 yrs

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement, today criminalised sex with a minor wife aged between 15 and 18 years, saying the exception in the rape was arbitrary and was violative of the Constitution.

Section 375 of the 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. However, the age of consent is 18 years.


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

A bench comprising Justice and Deepak Gupta also expressed concern over the prevalent practise of child marriage in the country and said social justice laws were not implemented with the spirit with which they have been enacted by

The bench clarified that it has not dealt with the issue of marital rape as it was not raised before it by respective parties.

Justice Gupta, who wrote a separate but concurrent verdict, said the age of marriage was 18 in all laws and the exception given in the rape under the is "capricious, arbitrary and violates the rights of a girl child".

The apex 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.

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

The had earlier reserved the verdict while questioning the Centre how the could create an exception in declaring that intercourse or a sexual act by a man with his wife, aged between 15 and less than 18 years, is not rape when the age of consent is 18.

The apex had also observed that child marriage cannot go on like this just because this illegal practice was assumed to be legal and has been going on for ages.

The petitioners have sought a direction to declare exception 2 to Section 375 of as "violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution to the extent that it permits intrusive sexual intercourse with a girl child aged between 15 and 18 years, only on the ground that she has been married."

One of the petitioners had argued that the exception to section 375 of the was defeating the purpose of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and was also in violation of international conventions to which India was a signatory.

They have also referred to the provisions of the POCSO Act and said these were contrary to the provision.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, October 11 2017. 12:28 IST
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