Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Marital rape: Supreme Court to hear petitions against Delhi High Court split verdict on September 16

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on September 16, the petitions challenging the split verdict of Delhi High Court on the criminalisation of marital rape.

The Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice B.V. Nagarathna listed the two petitions for September 16, which challenged the May 11 High Court judgement, passed by the two-Judge Bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C. Hari Shankar.

The counsel said that the Division Bench of the High Court had granted the certificate of leave to appeal to the apex court.

The Apex Court observed that the matter had to be heard otherwise also and added that one more petition on the issue was earlier mentioned before it. It said when the other matter would come up for hearing before it, the top court of the country would tag all of them together.

The petitioners before the High Court had challenged the constitutionality of marital rape exception under Section 375 IPC (rape) on the ground that it discriminated against married women, who were sexually assaulted by their husbands.

Justice Shakdher had called for striking down the 162-year-old law, stating that the right to withdraw consent at any given point in time formed the core of the woman’s right to life & liberty, and also encompassed her right to protect her physical & mental being. He had noted that marital rape not only left physical scars, but inflicted much deeper scars on the psyche of the victim, which remained with her for years.

However, Justice Hari Shankar had observed that the exception under the rape law was not unconstitutional and based on an intelligible differentia having a rational nexus with the object of the exception as well as Section 375 (rape) of the IPC itself. 

The Division Bench of High Court further differed on issues, such as availability of evidence, importance of consent, whether the court could adjudicate over the issue of marital rape or only the legislature could decide, whether the State’s concerns about safeguarding the institution of marriage were valid or not, and whether remedies were available to women survivors of spousal violence in other laws, such as the law on domestic violence.

The exception given in Section 375 of IPC gives protection to husband, on having sexual intercourse or sexual acts with his wife, the wife not being minor, from being charged under rape. The High Court verdict had come on PILs filed by NGOs RIT Foundation, All India Democratic Women’s Association, a man and a woman, seeking striking down of the exception granted to husbands under Section 375 of IPC, commonly called the rape law.


News Update