Sex with wife aged between 15 to 18 years would be a punishable offence

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On Wednesday, The Supreme Court  said that sex with wife aged between 15 and 18 years would be a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).”The exception in rape law under the IPC is contrary to other statutes, violates bodily integrity of girl child.”

Under Section 375  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 courts said that exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary. The court expressed its   concern over practice of child marriage and said social justice laws are not implemented with the spirit they have been enacted.The court clarified that it has not dealt with the issue of marital rape.

Supreme Court  was replying to a plea challenging the validity of an exception clause in the rape law that permits intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years. A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur had on September 6 reserved its order on the plea while 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.

The apex court had then said it did not want to go into the aspect of marital rape, but when the age of consent was 18 years for “all purposes”, why was such an exception made in the IPC.