The apex court of India has passed a landmark verdict today. It has upheld that age of consent for women is 18 as per the Constitution.

The two-judge bench, headed by Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, said that sexual intercourse with one’s wife, who is between 15 and 18 years, will amount to rape. The court stated that Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, as it stands, is arbitrary and violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 and not in consonance with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Also, the court urged the central and state governments to proactively prevent child marriages.

Also Read: Karnataka Child Marriage Bill Gets Prez Nod

The judgment came in response to a petition filed by NGO Independent Thought. Gaurav Agarwal had appeared for the petitioner NGO. The Supreme Court relied on the Child Marriage Prohibition Act to reach this conclusion.

The court said that immunity cannot be granted to a husband who is having sexual intercourse with his wife under the age of 18 years

However, this verdict will not have a retrospective effect.

Advocate Agarwal pointed that in our country, rape and child marriage laws disagreed on the “age of consent”. On one hand, Section 375 of the IPC says sex with a girl below 18 years mounts to rape, but it had an Exception 2, which allowed a man to have sex with his underage wife, 15 or above, even without her consent.

Further, the provision was also contrary to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 that puts 18 as the age of marriage for girls and 21 for men.

The government had told the court, defending the exception, during an earlier hearing that in India there are close to 23 million child brides and criminalising the “consummation of the marriages” as rape would not be appropriate.

However, then law doesn’t have a provision of “age of consent”  for boys.

What better day to welcome a Judgment than the International Girl Child Day. Here, are a few social media reactions celebrating the verdict:

Picture Credit: Live Mint

Also Read: Of all things being equal in a marriage in India, sadly, sexual consent isn’t – Kiran Manral

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.