The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday, 23 March, refused to quash charges of rape against a man who has been accused of forcing himself upon his wife.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines the offence of rape. While this Section has been amended over the years to remove archaic concepts, emphasise the importance of consent, and cover all relevant sexual acts, it still retains an exception for non-consensual sex by a husband with his wife.
In a significant development on the legality to the exception, Justice M Nagaprasanna said that "marriage cannot be used as a license for unleashing brutal beast on the wife," reported Bar and Bench.
"The contention of the learned senior counsel that if the man is the husband, performing the very same acts as that of another man, he is exempted. In considered view, such an argument cannot be countenanced. A man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the 'husband' on the woman 'wife'."Justice M Nagaprasanna
According to LiveLaw, the court also held that the submission that a husband was protected by the institution of marriage for any act performed was "not proper."
The survivor had registered a complaint against her husband for offences punishable under Sections 376 (rape) and 377 (unnatural offence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Special Court took cognisance of the case and framed charges under Sections 498A (cruelty) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC. The accused later approached the high court with a plea to quash the charges.
The primary argument of the accused was, reportedly, that a husband was exempted under Section 375 (rape), and therefore, could not be charged under Section 376 (punishment for rape).
(With inputs from LiveLaw, Bar and Bench.)