Parliament consciously kept voidable marriage age for girls: Govt. to Supreme Court

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Date: September 5, 2017

Location: Delhi, India

The debate regarding whether sexual intercourse with wife between the age of 15 and 18 years can be termed as rape has been in the light for a while now.

In this context, the Government on Tuesday during the hearing told the Supreme Court that the Parliament, in its wisdom, had taken a conscious decision to keep the age limit of voidable marriage between 15 and 18 years in case of girls.

A bench of Justices, M.B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, questioned the logic behind the different age limits for voidable age of marriage under the different acts such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and the Hindu Marriage Act. The Apex Court further expressed concern over the prevalence of child marriages in the country despite a law to prohibit it.

Acknowledging the reality of child marriages, Senior Advocate Rana Mukerjee representing the Centre, said that the Centre had decided to retain age limit of 15 years to protect sexual activity between the husband and wife. Additionally, it was also important to ensure the legitimacy of the child in such marriages with wife between the age of 15 and 18 years, hence the intercourse between wife, not below 15, is not rape.

To this, Jayana Kothari, the Advocate representing the NGO Child Rights Trust, said that this exception to section 375 was defeating the purpose of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. She also linked this as a violation to the recent Right to Privacy as recognized by the Supreme Court. Reference was also made to the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012, and said these were contrary to the IPC provision.

Read the full article by Hindustan Times here.

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