Marital rape is not a criminal offence, says Supreme Court
Source : NewsBharatiDate : 10-Aug-2017
New Delhi, August 10: We have often heard about incidences possessing cruel act of ‘marital rape’. But how does one define marital rape? Is it justified or not? The raging issue of whether to make forced marital intercourse and sexual acts part of the offence of rape in penal law has been extensively debated and now it cannot be considered as a criminal act, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which defines the offence of rape, has an exception clause that says the intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not a rape.
A bench of Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta said, “Parliament has extensively debated the issue of marital rape and considered that it was not an offence of rape. Therefore, it cannot be considered as a criminal offence.” The bench further observed, “There are cases when college-going teens, below 18 years of age, engage in sexual activities consensually and get booked under the law. Who is going to suffer? The boy is not at fault. The punishment of 7 years is too harsh.”
It said, similarly, problem arises when a girl, under 18 years of age, elopes and engages in consensual sexual activity, the male gets booked for rape. “In these cases, we do have problem if look at various aspects,” the bench said as it asked the Centre to apprise it about the number of prosecutions under the Child Marriage Act for past three years in three weeks. It also asked the Centre to apprise it about appointment of the Child Marriage Prohibiti-on Officers in the country and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.
The bench was hearing a plea questioning the constitutionality of a provision permitting a man to have physical relationship with his wife even if she is aged between 15 and 18.
It said as per the prevailing law, if a man has physical intercourse with a girl under 15 years of age, it is termed as rape irrespective of “consent or no consent” and if she is below 18 years of age, but more than 15 and married, then no offence of rape is made out.