NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ruled that sex with a wife who is under 18 years of age is rape and therefore a crime.

 Till NowThe Apex court did not rule on 'marital rape', which is sexual intercourse forced upon a partner no matter what their age.

Before today's SC ruling, there was an exception in Section 375 rape law provisions that protected a man who had sexual relations with his wife even if she was under 18, which is the age of approval.

"Exception 2 in Section 375 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) conceding safety to the husband is isolative of the constitution and fundamental rights of the minor bride', says Supreme Court.

The apex court's judgment upholds the rights of 2.3 crore child brides in the nation.

The SC discarded the plea of the Centre which justified the provision on the grounds that child marriage is realism in the nation and such marriage has to be protected.

A bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur had on September 6 asked the Centre how Parliament could make an exception in a law when the age of consent is 18.

Also in September, the apex court had said it did not want to go into the features of marital rape, but when the age of consent was 18 years for "all purposes", why was such an exception prepared in the IPC.

Responding to the query, the Centre's counsel had said if this exception under the IPC goes, then it would open up the dome of marital rape which does not be present in India.

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