By Arifa Khan, Post Graduate College of Law, Osmania University, Hyderabad.
The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, affirmed that sexual intercourse with a minor wife is rape, where consent is immaterial. The judgment came on a petition filed by an NGO- Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) run by Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi to examine the conflict of Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) with Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The Court struck down Exception 2 to Section 375 of IPC, which exempts marital rape of girls between the age of 15 and 18 from the purview of rape. The POCSO Act has determined the age of consent to be 18 years which cannot be reduced, the court ruled. The Court Bench, comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, said that the exception to the rape law was contrary to the philosophy of other statutes and violates the bodily integrity of a girl child. The discrimination between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child is artificial. “A child remains a child whether she is described as a street child or a surrendered child or an abandoned child or an adopted child. Similarly, a child remains a child whether she is a married child or an unmarried child or a divorced child or a separated or widowed child.”, Justice Lokur wrote. (more…)