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Supreme Court lists petitions pertaining to marital rape for hearing on May 9

The Supreme Court has listed the hearing of petitions seeking to declare marital rape as a criminal offence on May 9.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud passed the order after the case was mentioned by senior advocate Indira Jaising.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said it would take him about one-and-a-half days to argue the matter as it pertains to an important issue.

In January, the Court had asked the Union government to file its response on the issue by February 15 and the final hearing on the pleas would commence from March 21. 

The case could, however, not be taken up as Justice Pardiwala was indisposed.

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

Justice Shakdher said the 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 there was no support to show the 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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