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Criminalization Of Marital Rape - Taking A 'Constructive Approach'; Invited Suggestions From Stakeholders : Centre Tells Delhi High Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
13 Jan 2022 11:53 AM GMT
Criminalization Of Marital Rape - Taking A Constructive Approach; Invited Suggestions From Stakeholders : Centre Tells Delhi High Court
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In what seems to be a change from the stance taken in the initial affidavit in the petitions seeking criminalization of marital rape, the Central Government today informed the Delhi High Court that it is undertaking a consultative process on the issue. Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta today said that the Centre is considering a "constructive approach" in the...

In what seems to be a change from the stance taken in the initial affidavit in the petitions seeking criminalization of marital rape, the Central Government today informed the Delhi High Court that it is undertaking a consultative process on the issue.

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta today said that the Centre is considering a "constructive approach" in the matter.

Standing Counsel Monika Arora further added that Central Government has called for suggestions from various stakeholders, including Chief Ministers of all States and Chief Justice of India and High Court Chief Justices, regarding the amendment to the criminal laws.

The submission was made before a bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C Hari Shankar, which is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking striking down of exception to Section 375 of IPC, which exempts forceful sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife from the offence of rape, provided the wife is above 15 years of age.

The bench however clarified that legislative consultation to revamp the entire criminal laws is a long drawn process, which may take years to complete.

"Generally this exercise will take a long time when you are talking about the whole Code...If you're doing something particularly qua this provision, then you tell us," the Bench remarked orally.

Live updates from the hearing here.



Earlier, in its written submissions filed in the year 2017, the Centre had opposed criminalizing marital rape, stating that the same will have the effect of destabilizing the institution of marriage.

It was further apprehended that the provision will become an easy tool for harassing the husbands.

"If all sexual acts by a man with his own wife will qualify to be marital rape, then the judgment as to whether it is a marital rape or not will singularly rest with the wife. The question is what evidences the Courts will rely upon in such circumstances as there can be no lasting evidence in case of sexual acts between a man and his own wife," Union of India had argued.

On the other hand, it is the Petitioners' case that marital rape exception provided under Section 375 of Indian Penal Code violates a woman's right to dignity, personal and sexual autonomy and her right to self-expression enshrined under the Constitution of India.

Amicus Curiae Rajshekhar Rao has also supported criminalization of the act. He classified the relationship of a couple into three stages; courtship, engagement and separation; and argued that it is irrational that whereas five minutes before the marriage the act is a criminal offence, 5 minutes after marriage it is condonable.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government and two intervenors have opposed the pleas. The arguments may be read here and here.

The lead petition in the case has been filed by RIT Foundation.

Case Title: RIT Foundation v. Union of India


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