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India

centre Asks More Time From HC On Marital Rape Issue

The Centre said that the matter may not be looked at from a microscopic angle as the court is dealing with the constitutional validity of a provision.

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In 2017, the Union government had opposed the criminalisation of marital rape on the ground that it would destabilise the institution of marriage. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday informed the Delhi High Court that it is consulting with several stakeholders and therefore will need more time on issues relating to various pleas demanding criminalization of marital rape.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench of justices Rajiv Shakdher and C Hari Shankar that since the dignity of a woman was at stake and family issues are also involved, the Centre will need more time.

The Centre also said that the matter may not be looked at from a microscopic angle as the court is dealing with the constitutional validity of a provision. He also submitted that there is no imminent threat that something is going to happen to someone. The bench however said that there are some people for whom every day matters as they say they are facing abuse.

The Court said that first let others finish arguments and then it will consider Centre’s plea seeking time. Meanwhile, Amicus Curiae and Senior Advocate Rebecca John apprised the Court about receiving hate due to her stand on marital rape and a lot of people asking her to recuse herself from the issue because she had openly supported the criminalization of marital rape.

Advocate Jonn apprised these facts to the Court when she was concluding her submission on the issue as an Amicus Curiae. She submitted that other sections like 498A of IPC which are meant to address grievances of married women deal with specific crimes and the crime of rape is outside their purview.

She said that Section 375 is separate and Section 498A can not be used as a substitute for Section 375 as every offence is distinct in nature. Amicus on Friday told the Delhi High Court that there can be a legitimate expectation regarding sex in a marriage, but it cannot lead to forcible sex with the wife.

The hearing would be continued on Tuesday. The court was hearing a batch of petitions including by the NGOs RIT Foundation and All India Democratic Women’s Association who have challenged an exception to section 375 to the Indian Penal Code.

The exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, says sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

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