Delhi HC Asks Centre To Clarify Stance On Marital Rape Criminalisation. Could We Please Make A Decision Already?

Delhi HC Asks Centre To Clarify Stance On Marital Rape Criminalisation. Could We Please Make A Decision Already?

I think we can all agree that sex and every topic related to it is considered to be taboos in India. Because of this, there is little to no awareness among people about sexual relationships and how they are supposed to be maintained. A person growing up is expected to not interact with the opposite gender and then be pushed to get married and have children. I believe this ends up with many spouses believing that they are entitled to sex from their partner, regardless of the latter’s consent. And while non-consensual sex is rape, many still keep questioning the validity of marital rape. Delhi HC has finally demanded that the Centre clarify its stance on marital rape criminalisation.

The Centre had asked for time to consult and make an informed decision on the criminalisation of marital rape. The court heard multiple PILs to remove marital rape as an exception from the Indian rape law. Justice Rajiv Shakdher has demanded a clarification from the Centre about the criminalisation of marital rape as the Centre had asked for some time to consult about the matter so that they can reach a constructive approach. Many NGOs like RIT Foundation and All India Democratic Women’s Association have appealed for the criminalisation as it discriminates against married women who have been sexually abused by their husbands.

The Centre wanted to consult and make a decision so that they don’t present a “less discussed and consulted stand” in front of the bench. “We have to formulate our stand and place our considered stand for your lordship and considering that this a 2015 matter if your lordship can grant us a reasonable time. This might need a little consultation etc,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. Justice Shakdher said that the court doesn’t mind if the Centre takes time for consultation but they need to inform which direction they are going in. He said, “I don’t mind that (the consultation) but they have to take a decision which way they are going… there are some matters, for whatever reasons, I think the court ultimately decides one way or the other and that’s how it gets resolved. You take your time.” 

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi Talks About ‘Consent’ And ‘Women’s Safety’ Amid The Hearings At Delhi High Court To Criminalise Marital Rape

On January 13, the Centre said that they are looking for a constructive approach to the criminalisation of marital rape. And have sought suggestions for the changes in the criminal law including Section 375 of the IPC. Senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao (acting as  amicus curie) said, “a married woman cannot be denied the right to prosecute her husband if she believed that she was raped and in case of denial of a conjugal relationship.” Further arguments have been made that the exception of marital rape contradicts Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. In its affidavit, the Centre has shown concern over husbands being harassed under marital rape criminalisation. Delhi government earlier said that marital rape has been included under, “crime of cruelty” under the IPC. The court will continue the hearing on January 18, according to sources.

I for one am glad that marital rape is being taken seriously. The amount of times men have been acquitted under the pretext of technicalities is just nonsensical. However, hopefully, the Centre will make a good decision in terms of marital rape criminalisation and justice will prevail.

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Priyadarshini Malavia

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