Criminalizing ‘marital rape’: Delhi High Court delivers split verdict

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In a significant hearing, the Delhi High Court Wednesday delivered a split verdict on the issue of criminalisation of marital rape and granted leave to the parties to file an appeal before the Supreme Court.

This means that the matter will now be heard in front of the Supreme Court after the parties have filed an appeal in the apex court.

While Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who headed the division bench, favoured striking down the marital rape exception, Justice C Hari Shankar said the exception under the IPC is not unconstitutional and was based on an intelligible differentia.

The petitioners had challenged the constitutionality of the marital rape exception under Section 375 IPC (rape) on the ground that it discriminated against married women who are sexually assaulted by their husbands.

Under the exception given in Section 375 of the IPC, sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being minor, is not rape.

A string of PILs were filed by women in the Delhi High Court seeking the criminalization of marital rape, stating that the current law discriminates against married women. The PILs had initially been filed in 2015, with a significant hearing of the matter being conducted today.

Earlier, the Centre had said that it must be ensured that the criminalization of marital rape does not disrupt the institution of marriage in the country.

A huge uproar regarding the hearings of marital rape in February was raised on social media, with a large section of the male population opposing its criminalization, stating that it can lead to a lot of false accusations against innocent men.

After an appeal is filed by the parties involved in the case, the matter will be heard in front of the Supreme Court. (PTI)

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