Highlights

  • Marital rape: Delhi High Court delivered split verdict
  • One judge opposed exemption for husbands in rape provision
  • The second judge differed; petitioners can go to SC now

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What marital rape verdict means: Delhi High Court's split judgment on husband exemption in IPC 375

Marital rape judgment: the two judges on the Delhi HC bench differed on whether husbands should be exempted from Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to rape.

The debate on whether marital rape should be criminalised will see yet another chapter. The Delhi High Court delivered a split verdict on the question on May 11.

The two judges on the HC bench differed on whether husbands should be exempted from Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to rape. While Justice Rajiv Shakdher said that the exception for husbands should be struck down, Justice C Hari Shankar disagreed, stating that the exception was not unconstitutional, and based on intelligible differentia.

Petitioners had sought criminalisation of marital rape, claiming that the exemption under IPC discriminates against married women. Section 375 says that sexual acts by a man with his wife, who should not be a minor, is not rape.

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The petitioners can approach the Supreme Court now.

In 2017, the Narendra Modi government had opposed the criminalisation of marital rape, claiming that such a move would destabilise the institution of marriage. However, in February 2022, the Central government sought more time to state its stand before the High Court, but the request was turned down.

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