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Marital Rape: Delhi HC Verdict On Exception to Section 375 Today

Section 375 exempts forced sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, from the criminal offence of rape.

Updated
India
2 min read
Marital Rape: Delhi HC Verdict On Exception to Section 375 Today
i

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday, 11 May, will issue its verdict on the batch of pleas challenging the exception to Section 375 which exempts forced sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, from the criminal offence of rape.

The bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C Hari Shankar refused to grant further time to the Centre to submit its written submission earlier on 21 February. This was also the last date of hearing of the batch of pleas.

"We are closing it then. Judgment reserved. List for directions on 2 March. In the meantime, counsel for parties may file their written submissions and compilations," the bench had said.

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What's the Case?

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines the offence of rape. While the section has been amended over the years to remove archaic concepts, emphasise on 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.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, as an amicus curiae (a court-appointed expert), delved into the history of the marital rape exception and broke down what the offence of rape in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code is supposed to be.

"The woman's consent is fundamental to the invocation of 375 and so we cannot wish it away," John explained.

This 'marital rape exception' has been challenged in the Delhi High Court, on the basis that it violates the fundamental rights of married women, including Article 14 (right to equal treatment by law) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

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