In a country where child marriages are a reality with an estimated 2.3 crore minor brides, marital rape is still not considered a crime. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) protects a man having intercourse with his minor wife aged above 15 years.
- An NGO, Independent Thought, wants that a husband who has intercourse with his wife aged below 15 be tried under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
- Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who heard the arguments, have now said that such cases of a minor wife can be dealt under POCSO.
- The Delhi Court is also hearing a demand that marital rape be made an offence.
- 18 is the legally sanctioned age for a girl’s marriage and while the marriages between 15 and 18 years of age have dropped considerably, they still stand at a significant number in India.
- The NGO Independent Thought’s PIL challenged the validity of Section 375 (Rape) of IPC and Advocate Gaurav Agrawal argued for the petitioner saying POCSO was a special act and that it would override IPC which provides an exception for child marriage cases.
- The Centre, though, is justifying this exception claiming marriage is sacrosanct and needs protection, particularly because child marriage is practiced and is a living reality in our country.