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Kerala HC's landmark judgment: Court says marital rape is a ground for divorce

Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath observed that though marital rape cannot be penalised under the law, it was a form of cruelty and a good ground to claim divorce.

Kerala HC's landmark judgment: Court says marital rape is a ground for divorce

The Kerala High Court has passed a landmark judgment, ruling marital rape as a ground for divorce.

Observing that in modern social jurisprudence, spouses are treated as equal partners, the Kerala High Court said that the husband cannot claim any superior right over wife with respect to her body or individual status.

While marital rape is not a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code, the bench comprising of Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath said that it fell in the frame of mental and physical cruelty and is a good ground to claim divorce.

The Court was hearing a matter where the husband had challenged a family’s court verdict in favour of his wife who had sought divorce. He had in turn filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights which the court dismissed observing that he was treating his wife as money-minting machine and she was tolerating the sexual and mental harassment for the sake of marriage.

The High Court made several key observations such as-

“Treating wife's body as something owing to husband and committing sexual act against her will is nothing but marital rape…”

“Marital privacy is intimately and intrinsically connected to individual autonomy and any intrusion, physically or otherwise into such space would diminish privacy…”

“A husband's licentious disposition disregarding the autonomy of the wife is a marital rape, albeit such conduct cannot be penalised, it falls in the frame of physical and mental cruelty…”


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