Thursday, August 11, 2022

Update- today’s Delhi High Court decision on criminalizing marital rape

The Delhi High Court will issue its decision on Wednesday, May 11, after hearing a slew of petitions seeking to criminalise marital rape. The petitions are challenging the Indian Penal Code’s exception to the rape law (IPC).

Exception 2 of IPC Section 375 (rape) does not consider forceful sexual intercourse between a man and his wife who is over the age of 15 to be rape.

The Delhi High Court will issue its decision on the petitions to criminalise marital rape. Here is everything you need to know about the case.

The Delhi High Court will issue its decision on Wednesday, May 11, after hearing a slew of petitions seeking to criminalise marital rape. The petitions are challenging the Indian Penal Code’s exception to the rape law (IPC).

Exception 2 of IPC Section 375 (rape) does not consider forceful sexual intercourse between a man and his wife who is over the age of 15 to be rape.

In other words, Exception 2 of Section 375 decriminalises marital rape or requires that forced sexual intercourse between a man and his wife in a marriage is not rape.

A bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C Hari Shankar will rule on the four petitions seeking to criminalise forced sex in marriage, also known as marital rape.

About the Petitioners

The RIT foundation filed the petition in 2015, the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) in 2017, Khushboo Saifi, a marital rape survivor, in 2017, and a man accused of rape by his wife in 2017.

At least three petitions have also been filed before the Delhi High Court by men’s rights organisations opposing the criminalization of marital rape on various grounds, including allegations of false cases, the potential for misuse, and harm to marital relationships and families.

One intervention request also argued for a gender-neutral definition of rape to prevent men from being “unfairly targeted.”

Hearings in the case of the RIT foundation began in 2015, when the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Centre and the Delhi government. In 2016, the Centre filed an affidavit stating that criminalising marital rape would have a negative impact on Indian society.

WHAT DID THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI SAY?

While hearing the petitions, Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C Harishankar raised several questions and concerns. The court questioned whether it had the authority to overturn the provision, which would essentially “create a new offence” because rape by a husband is not punishable under current law.

The court also questioned whether it has the authority to define new offences and prescribe punishment, which only the legislature has.

The bench also expressed concerns about women’s rights, questioning whether it was possible to deny a woman equality and the right to choose “simply because of her marital status.”

The court stated that whether or not marital rape should be considered an offence was up to the legislature.

The Supreme Court, which heard the man’s appeal against the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday, declined to stay the court’s decision, which had refused to dismiss the case of marital rape filed against him based on a complaint by his wife.

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