Supreme Court of India rejects plea to criminalise marital rape

New Delhi(PTI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a woman’s plea to declare marital rape a criminal offence, citing that the plea was for a ‘personal cause and not a public cause’, says a Hindustan Times report.

The woman, an executive from Delhi, had told the court that she suffered repeated sexual violence from her husband, but she could not report it as a crime as the law books do not view it as one, said the HT report.

Section 375 of IPC that defines what constitutes as rape cites sex between a married couple, even without consent, as an exception to the law, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

The report said that Colin Gonsalves, the woman’s lawyer, has withdrawn the petition and said that he might move the court through a women’s organisation.

Justice Verma Committee after the Delhi rape case in 2012, heeded the demand to criminalise marital rape. The Indian government  however, chose to turn away from it as it has the “potential to destroy the institution of marriage” and place the “entire family system under great stress”.

The Parliamentary Panel that was later formed declined to term marital rape a crime, saying it could “disturb a family”. But it said any sexual assault by a husband on his wife during the period of their judicial separation must be treated as a cognizable offence.

With agency inputs