Can forced sexual acts by husband on wife, between the age group of 15-18 years, be rape? SC seeks answers

Supreme Court: The bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak gupta, JJ has sought response from the Centre as to whether Parliament has debated the aspect of protecting married girls between the age group of 15-18 years from the forced sexual acts by their spouses and whether the court could intervene to protect the rights of such married girls who may be sexually exploited by their spouses.

The Court was hearing the plea that had challenged the constitutionality of the exception under Section 375 IPC which says the intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not a rape. NGO Independent Thought contended that the distinction made in between 18 and 15 is illegal and unconstitutional as a girl in the age group of 15-18 is not that physically developed and she is not capable of taking an informed decision or consent. It was argued that the Parliament cannot impinge upon Article 21 by allowing the girl to marry under 18 years of age and allowing her to get pregnant or have intercourse. Centre, however, responded by saying that all the aspects have been considered pragmatically by the Parliament and keeping the child marriage prevalent in some societies,  the age of 15 has been kept as a threshold.

The bench noticed that declaring the law unconstitutional may have some serious repercussions as there are cases when college-going teens, below 18 years of age, engage in sexual activities consensually and get booked under the law and the boy suffers even when he is not at fault. Similarly, when a girl, under 18 years of age, elopes and engages in consensual sexual activity, the male gets booked for rape. The Court, hence, asked the Centre to apprise it about the number of prosecutions under the Child Marriage Act for past three years in three weeks and listed the matter for hearing after 4 weeks.

Source: PTI

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