Public Interest Litigation

Public Interest Litigation – Judicial Action

iThought undertakes judicial action through its PILs – a legal action initiated in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public or class of the community have pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected. In simple words, a PIL means litigation for the protection of the public interest.

Independent Thought is constantly analyzing Laws on women and children based on  field experiences and is and undertaking judicial action on strengthening the Governance  (woman and child welfare) through Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

Striking down Exception (2) to Section 375 of the IPC which allowed marital rape of minors

On 11th October 2017, the International Day of the Girl Child the Hon’ble Supreme Court gave the historical judgment reading down the Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which allowed marital rape within child marriages. In effect if a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it will be an offence of Rape”.

Primary issues addressed in the judgment

  • Age of consent: The universal legal minimum age of consent for sexual relationship is now clarified as 18 years in accordance with POCSO; including minor girls forced into marriage.
  • General laws vs. Special Laws: The court declared that POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012) is a special law for children and will apply in cases where sexual abuse takes place even within marriage involving children.
  • Secular laws vs. Personal laws: Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, POCSO and Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 were held to be secular laws that are applicable to all irrespective of the religion or faith they practice and profess when the matter is related to Children.
  • Hon’ble Supreme Court has protected girl children below the age of 18 years Any male who marries a minor girl below 18 years of age will be charged of Rape under Section 375 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and for offence of Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault as defined in Section 5(n) and punishable under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) by a term of rigorous imprisonment of not less than ten years and which may extend to imprisonment for life and fine.

Judgment in the news

News channels and Youtube videos



  1. ‘Sex with minor wife is RAPE’: Why and how NGO ‘Independent Thought’ began the battle that led to landmark SC verdict
  2. Extremely positive step for women’s rights
  3. Does sex with wife, who is a minor, be termed as rape? Supreme Court hears plea
  4. Martial Rape Cannot Be Considered As Criminal Act : SC
  5. Government defends forced sex with wife aged 15-17
  6. Marital rape not penal offence, Parliament debated it: SC
  7. Is sex with minor wife rape? SC to examine issue
  8. ‘7-yr jail for child marriages too harsh’
  9. Govt. defends no action for legal exception allowing forced sex with minor wife
  10. Marital rape not penal offence, Parliament debated it: SC
  11. Marriage defence for rape
  12. Sexual act by man with wife, not below 15 years, is not rape, says Supreme Court
  13. SC seeks details of convictions under Child Marriage Act
  14. SC says marital rape can’t be considered criminal: Traditional doesn’t justify assault, Child marriage
  15. Center has no problem if sex is forced on minor wife- The wire
  16. SC says Protecting ‘institution of marriage’ is above marital rap
  17. Marital rape, not criminal offence: Supreme Court
  18. Govt. defends no action for marital rape of wife aged 15-17 ; says punishment will destroy institution of marriage
  19. SC Asks Centre To Provide Data On Implementing Child Marriage Prohibition Act
  20. Govt defends IPC provision that protects marital rape
  21. Govt defends no action for legal exception allowing forced sex with minor wife
  22. Marital Rape Of Girl Above 15 Years Is Not A Criminal Offence: SC After Parliament’s Decision
  23. Supreme Court directs Center to present performance data of Child Marriage Prohibition Act, 2006
  24. Centre defends marital rape of the wives aged between 15 and 17
  25. Center defend exception allowing for forced sex with minor wife
  26. Forced sexual intercourse with wife is not a criminal offence    
  27. Marital rape law: Govt defends no action for forced sex with minor wife      
  28. Marital rape is not penal offence; Parliament already debated it, says Supreme Court
  29. Govt. defends no action for legal exception allowing forced sex with minor wife | SNE
  30. What is the best age to get married?
  31. New Report Lifts Lid on ‘Shocking’ Child Marriage Data, Makes Plea to Raise RTE Age to 18
  32. SC seeks details of conviction under child marriage
  33. Marital Rape Cannot Be Considered As Criminal Act : SC                                                
  34. 33 Per Cent of Child Brides in The World Are Indian: Report 
  35. High Court Questions Centre on Marital Rape: ‘How Do You Justify The Exception?’ 
  36. National Commission for Women Questions Centre’s Silence on Criminalizing Marital Rape
  37. India Has 12 Million Married Children Under Age Ten
  38. Child Marriages Rising in Urban India, Declining in Rural                                                     
  39. Bangladesh’s New Child Marriage Law Swings in the Wrong Direction
  40. Marital Rape Needs to be Punished, Indian ‘Culture’ is No Excuse
  41. Maneka Gandhi’s Altered Stance on Marital Rape Angers Activists
  42. Will the Indian Government Finally Criminalise Marital Rape?
  43. Child marriages in India
  44. Marriage is the age of 14 is allowed in the US.New York State just banned it.
  45. Twelve million child marriages, despite decline, says survey
  46. Nine arrested for ‘child marriage’ in Vadodra.
  47. 30% Women married under age 18
  48. Child marriage will not automatically become void: Madras HC
  49. Rape Laws on Minor Girls; SC Makes NCW Party to PIL
  50. Supreme Court notice to Centre on age of consent for sexual relations

Ongoing P.I.L.s

  1. Right To Education Independent Thought vs. Union of India (WP Civil 8763 of 2015) before the Delhi High Court. We have challenged the exemption given to government and government aided school from obtaining a “certificate of recognition” and whereby exempting from adhering to the basic norms and standards by exclusionary clause under Section 18(1), Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act) as UnconstitutionalMedia coverage
  2. Guidelines for Caesarian Section operations Independent Thought vs. Union of India [W.P. (C) 4678 of 2016 in Hon’ble High Court of Delhi] seeking for the issuance of necessary and appropriate guidelines for performance of Caesarian section operations to safeguard the reproductive health rights of women and children in India. This PIL pertains to the fundamental right to health of women and children in India and that absence of such guidelines is leading to violation of reproductive health rights.Media Coverage
  3. Implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act iThought has filed a PIL in the Hon’ble Supreme Court Independent Thought vs. Union of India, (WP 1234 of 2018) seeking declaration that PCMA is a secular law overriding all personal laws. We have sought  appropriate directions for effecting implementation of the provision concerning appointment of Child Marriage Prohibition Officer (CMPO) in a uniform and rationale manner with clear roles, responsibility and accountability mechanisms as well as for preparation of National and State Plans of Action for implementing the provisions of PCMA with focus on the District and sub-district Level mechanisms. The petition also focuses on the pivotal role played by Child Welfare Committees for children in need of care and protection and hence seek direction declaring the CWC as being one of the “next friend” as mentioned under Section 3(2) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 by harmonious reading of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.Media coverage
  4. Challenging the constitutional validity of Section 198 (6) of the Code of Criminal ProcedureiThought has filed a PIL in the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Independent Thought vs. Union of India, (WP (C) …….. of 2019) seeking declaration that Section 198 (6) is liable to be struck down as unconstitutional as it bars all Courts from taking cognizance of an offence under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), where the offence consists of sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife being a minor under 18 years of age if more than one year has elapsed from the date of the commission of the offence.  This Section is violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as it stands as an impediment in the protection of the rights of girl children who are victims of marital rape as provided in various statutes such as Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. 
  5. Implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 iThought is providing pro-bono support to NGO Matri Sudha through Advocate Vikram Srivastava for ongoing PIL Matri Sudha- A Charitable Trust vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi (W.P. Civil 8742 of 2016) for Constitution of State Food Commission as required under the National Food Security Act, 2013 and effective implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, to secure the well-being, good health and safety of children attending Anganwadi Centers and Schools of Delhi, by ensuring access to adequate food and nutritional security.  The petitioner has prayed for Government of NCT of Delhi for Development of State Plan of Action and State Nutrition Mission among other reliefs.