New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday held that sexual intercourse with a minor wife is rape while striking down the provision of Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Panel Code (IPC).

The Exception provision exempt marital rape of girls between the age of 15 and 18 from the purview of rape. The court observed that the exception to the rape law was contrary to the philosophy of other statues and violates the bodily integrity of a girl child.

The court has ruled that the  Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has determined the age of consent to be 18 years which cannot be reduced.

A division bench of the apex court comprising of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta has, while disposing off a petition filed by Independent Thought, an NGO,  said that the provision granting immunity from prosecution violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Noting that law cannot compromise with the bodily integrity of minor girls, the bench said that the discrimination between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child is artificial.

Justice Gupta, who wrote a separate but concurrent verdict, said the age of marriage was 18 in all laws and the exception given in the rape law under the IPC is “capricious, arbitrary and violates the rights of a girl child”.