While the Delhi High Court continues hearing petitions on the criminalisation of marital rape, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday, 16 January, said in a tweet, "Consent is amongst the most underrated concepts in our society." He added that it had to be foregrounded to ensure the safety of women.
Gandhi tweeted with the hashtag 'MaritalRape'.
The Delhi High Court bench is hearing the final arguments on a batch of petitions, which states that the marital rape exception violates Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life) under the Constitution, and therefore, needs to be struck down.
The two judges of the Delhi High Court hearing the challenge to the constitutionality of the marital rape exception had earlier made comments and had asked questions that appeared to take different views on how to approach the issue during the hearing on 13 January.
While hearing the final arguments, Justice Rajiv Shakdher had suggested that he didn't understand why we continued to "walk on eggshells" regarding the issue, as the relationship of a husband and wife was not relevant to whether a sexual act amounted to rape – consent was the crux of the matter.
Section 375 of the IPC 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.
However, the central government, in an affidavit filed earlier in the case, had said that marital rape could not be made a criminal offence as it could become a phenomenon that may destabilise the institution of marriage and an easy tool for harassing the husbands, NDTV reported.
(With inputs from NDTV.)