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Marital rape: Centre tells Supreme Court it has sought feedback on criminalising such rape

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apprised the Supreme Court that the Central Government has asked for feedback and views of different states on the plea seeking criminalisation of marital rape.

Mehta stated that this would not only have legal ramifications, but the matter will have social ramifications as well. He also sought permission to file a counter.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for a woman whose husband was charged with raping her, told the court that during her case in Karnataka High Court, the Central government chose not to file a reply.

Replying to Indira Jaising Mehta, Mehta mentioned that in the Delhi High Court, the Central government had spoken about the social ramifications and also that a couple of months ago, it had asked States for their inputs.

The bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud gave the Central Government time till February 15 for filing its reply and for listing the matter for final hearing on March 21.

In September last year, the Supreme Court had asked the Central government to respond in an appeal against the split verdict  in the marital rape case judgement which dealt with the validity of Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In the judgement, while Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the High Court struck down the provision as unconstitutional, Justice C Hari Shankar upheld the same.

Justice Shakdher said that impugned provisions in so far as they concern a husband having intercourse with his wife without consent are violative of Article 14 and are, therefore, struck down,

Justice Shankar said he did not agree. There is no support to show that impugned exception violates Articles 14, 19 or 21. There is an intelligible differentia. Justice Shankar said he was of of the view that the challenge cannot sustain.

The Apex Court later also observed that for the purposes of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, marital rape has to be considered as falling within the meaning of ‘rape’ to save women from forceful pregnancy.

The Supreme Court had stayed a March 23 judgment of the Karnataka High Court  which had declined to quash the charge of rape framed under Section 376 of the IPC against a man accused of raping and keeping his wife as a sex slave.

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