The Supreme Court on Thursday, August 10, said that forced marital intercourse and sexual acts are not rape, hence, cannot be considered as a criminal act.
The court was hearing a petition questioning the constitutional validity of an exception made to the Indian Penal Code’s Section 375, a provision that defines rape and makes it a criminal offence. The NGO in its petition sought direction to declare exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC as "violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution to the extent that it permits intrusive sexual intercourse with a girl child aged between 15 and 18 years, only on the ground that she has been married."
The government defended in the Supreme Court that no provision in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) penalize exist for a man having forcible sex with his wife aged between 15 and 17, saying the exception in rape law(Section 375 IPC) was meant to protect the institution of marriage.
It must be noted here that marriage law in India does not allow a woman to be legally married before the age of 18 and consensual sex with a minor outside of marriage is also considered rape by the law but not so, if the minor is married.
The institution of marriage is above the bodily integrity of women and the Centre has proven this by defending the Supreme Court, when it stated that a man forcibly having sex with his minor wife between the age of 15 to 17 years of age, should not be regarded as rape. This exception in the rape law, the Centre said, is to ‘protect the institution of marriage’, reported Hindustan Times.