In a landmark verdict from the Supreme Court, sex with a minor wife will be considered as rape. The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that having sexual intercourse with wife below 18-years will be considered rape. The case in the Supreme Court was being on how a man could not have forced sex with the wife, but the Apex Court has declared that having sex with wife below 18-years will be considered as rape. The girl will have to complain within one year of the forced physical act. However, the existing complaints will not be affected.

Reacting on Supreme Court’s decision criminalising sexual intercourse with wife under 18 years of age, Shehzad Poonawalla welcomed Supreme Court’s decision. The Supreme Court’s was hearing a petition by NGO Independent Thought had challenged the exception clause (2) under Section 375 Indian Penal Code (IPC) which says sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape. 

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea whether a man’s forcible physical relations with his wife below the age of 18 years of age would be treated as rape or not, the Apex Court ruled that lowering down of age from 18 to 15 for age of consent for sexual relations is unconstitutional and is criminal if the minor wife complains of forcible relations.

Exception 2 to Section 375 has been read down thus sexual intercourse with wife below 18 years of age is now rape. The said exception has been held violative of Art 14 & 21. Also, section 375 (2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which grants protection to a minor girl’s husband is violative of the constitution and the girl’s fundamental rights. The division bench of two judges pronounced two different orders, but both agreed on the above mentioned violation.

On September 6, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur reserved its order on the plea questioning the Centre how Parliament could create an exception in law 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. 

First Published | 11 October 2017 11:13 AM
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