How the inconsistency between Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code with other statutes covering children created anomalies? To what extent, the recent SC verdict does away this anomaly? Discuss.

Social evils like child marriage deny individuals with opportunities for education and self advancement. They violate their right to bodily integrity and meaningful life. Supreme Court ruled that a man who has sex with his minor wife is guilty of rape based on PIL filed by NGO.

  • The verdict reads down the exception to Section 375 of Indian Penal Code which allowed the husband of a girl child between 15 and 18 years of age blanket liberty and freedom to have non-consensual sexual intercourse with her.
  • The exception had remained an anomaly because Section 375 itself mandated that sex with a girl below 18 years of age, with or without her consent, was statutory rape.
  • The husband of a girl child could be charged under other sections of the IPC for assault, causing grievous hurt etc but could not be charged with rape, leading to a anomalous and astounding situation where the husband can be charged with lesser offences but not the more serious offence of rape which has been removed with verdict.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Juvenile Justice Act, define a “child” as someone who is below 18 years of age contrary to exception.
  • The verdict would act as deterrent to social practice of child marriage.

SC verdict has done away with both anomalies but real challenge lies in implementation and enforcement of verdict.


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