Marital Rape: Delhi HC Verdict Can Change Course of a Murder Case
If Delhi HC criminalizes martial rape, this B’luru housewife may walk free
With the Delhi High Court agreeing to hear petitions seeking to make marital rape a criminal offence, a verdict on the same could affect a murder in Bengaluru.
A 35-year-old woman was booked for murder after she killed her husband, who attempted to rape her on 26 February 2017, in Bengaluru’s Bytarayanapura.
Prajwal Kumar*, 45, died after his wife, Rashmi*, kicked him in his groin area. The woman claimed Prajwal was trying to force himself on her and she acted in self-defence.
Section 100 of the Indian Penal Code exempts a crime committed in self-defence. The definition of self-defence, under the Section, includes murder and rape attempt. However, cops who were investigating the case, booked her on charges of murder, as marital rape is not recognised by the law.
MN Anucheth, Deputy Commissioner of Police, West, told The Quint that a chargesheet has been filed in the case. “As of now, marital rape is not recognised. We have asked the court for punishment under murder charges,” he said.
If the Delhi High Court rules in favour of recognising marital rape as a crime, Rashmi will be held ‘not guilty’ in the murder.
Even if the Delhi High Court rules against criminalising marital rape, Rashmi still has hope. Prajwal was HIV positive when he tried to force himself on her. This means that if she had not acted in self-defence, intercourse with her husband would have been life threatening. According to retired policemen, her act could also be considered as an attempt to save herself from death.
In the days following the murder, senior lawyers in Bengaluru had opined that the police case was weak. Not only was the death caused by an act of self-defence, the intention to kill was not strong. This, because Rashmi didn’t kick him with the intention of murdering him but to resist his advance. She didn’t use any weapons either, they pointed out. The case could only attract charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
While several factors in the case give her hope, police have built the case around her attempt to cover up the murder.
“The day after the murder, she planned with her paramour to cover up the death. Not only did she report the murder, but planned a funeral claiming her husband died of natural causes. This circumstantial evidence shows she had intentions of seeing her husband dead,” Anucheth added.
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