Marital rape: Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on pleas, hearings to begin by March-end

Some petitions before the top court challenge the exclusion of marital rape as a criminal offence under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

Supreme Court, Supreme Court cases
Supreme Court. (Express Photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central government to file its response on a batch of petitions regarding the criminalisation of marital rape and said that it would begin the final hearing on the pleas on March 21, 2023.

Hearing the matter, a bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala asked the Centre to file its response on the issue by February 15.

The petitions filed before the Supreme Court () range from the split verdict by the Delhi High Court on the matter to the Karnataka High Court’s verdict refusing to quash rape charges against a husband as well as the exclusion of marital rape under Section 375 of the IPC.

A plea filed by one Khushboo Saifi pertains to the May 2022 split verdict by a division bench of the Delhi High Court on petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape. While one judge said “legitimate expectation of sex” is an “inexorable” aspect of marriage, the other said the “right to withdraw consent at any given point in time forms the core of the woman’s right to life and liberty”.

Another plea, filed by a man in Karnataka, challenges the order by a single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court refusing to quash rape charges filed by a wife against her husband.

“A man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the ‘husband’ on the woman ‘wife’,” a single-judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court said in March 2022, adding that the “age-old…regressive” thought that “husbands are the rulers of their wives, their body, mind, and soul should be effaced”.

Another batch of petitions challenges the constitutional validity of the exception to marital rape under the IPC. Section 375 defines rape and lists seven notions of consent that, if vitiated, would constitute the offence of rape by a man. However, the provision contains a crucial exemption: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”

(With PTI inputs)

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 16-01-2023 at 13:19 IST
Exit mobile version