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Delhi High Court gives split verdict on marital rape case

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The Delhi High Court divisional bench on Wednesday delivered a split verdict on the ongoing martial rape case which talks of the validity of Exception 2 in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Exception 2 in Section 375 says that rape charges cannot be put against a man who has non-consensual sex with his wife. The validity of the same had been challenged before the High Court.

The Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C. Hari Shankar differed in their verdicts.

Justice Shakdher struck down the provision stating that it is unconstitutional.

“The 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 Shakdher held.

Justice Shankar differed. “I do not agree. There is no support to show that impugned exception violates Articles 14, 19 or 21. There is an intelligible differentia. I am of the view that the challenge cannot sustain,” Justice Shankar held.

Owing to a split verdict, the marital rape case will be referred to a three-judge bench.

The HC said the issue involves a substantial question of law. “We grant leave to appeal,” the bench said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Central government on the last hearing, had told the Delhi High Court that a stand on issue like this should be taken only after due consultation with State and other stakeholders.

The SG said that this case can impact the social and marital life of many people and it should be dealt properly. He stressed that since this case could have an impact on social and family life with wide consequences, the Centre would only put forth its stand after the consultative process.

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