SC Gives Its Verdict On Exception To Rape Law:- The Supreme court, in a landmark verdict, on Wednesday ruled that the sex with wife aged between 15 and 18 years would be a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and amount to rape.
The apex court said, “The exception in rape law under the IPC is contrary to other statutes, violates bodily integrity of girl child.” The exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitary, said the Supreme Court. Moreover, it said that a complaint must be filed within a year.
Earlier, the apex court said that it does not wish to get into the domain of marital rape and further added that for a woman, the age of consent is 18 years and that cannot be whittled down.
To reach this conclusion, the SC relied on the Child Marriage Prohibition Act. Immunity cannot be allowed to a husband who is having sexual intercourse with his wife in this age group, said the court. There will be no retrospective effect on this verdict.
The exception clause (2) under Section 375 IPC (which deals with rape) was challenged by NGO Independent Thought through a petition. The clause said that intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape. This indeed created a dichotomy as the age of consent was 18 years.
It is against the interest of the girl child as well, contended the petitioners. Under Section 375 (2) of the IPC, there can be no legal protection, said the court on Wednesday. The petitioners hoped that the clause be smitten down as it is “violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution”.
The court, while hearing the petition, had asked the Centre how Parliament could create such an exemption in the law. However, it was clarified by the apex court that it did not want to go into the aspect of marital rape, but asked why such an exception was created when the age of consent was 18 years for “all purposes”.
Doing away with this exception would open up the domain of marital rape, which does not exist in India, replied the Centre. The concept of age of puberty among Muslims for the purpose of marriage was referred by the Centre’s counsel. It said that before arriving at a conclusion, these aspects have been deliberated upon by Parliament.
The exception clause went against the objectives of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and was also in violation of international conventions to which India was a signatory, contended the petitioners.
(Video Source: NDTV)