New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central government to file its response on a batch of petitions regarding the criminalisation of marital rape and said that it would begin the final hearing on the pleas on March 21.
Hearing the matter, a bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala asked the Centre to file its response on the issue by February 15.
The petitions filed before the Supreme Court range from the split verdict by the Delhi High Court on the matter to the Karnataka High Court’s verdict refusing to quash rape charges against a husband as well as the exclusion of marital rape under Section 375 of the IPC.
A plea filed by one Khushboo Saifi pertains to the May 2022 split verdict by a division bench of the Delhi HC on petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape. While one judge said “legitimate expectation of sex” is an “inexorable” aspect of marriage, the other said the “right to withdraw consent at any given point in time forms the core of the woman’s right to life and liberty”.
Another batch of petitions challenges the constitutional validity of the exception to marital rape under the IPC. Section 375 defines rape and lists seven notions of consent that, if vitiated, would constitute the offence of rape by a man.
However, the provision contains a crucial exemption: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”