A Delhi High Court Bench of Chief Justice G Rohin and Justice Jayant Nath has sought the Union government’s response on a PIL challenging a provision in the penal law, which does not consider sexual intercourse of a man with his minor wife as rape. Earlier the court has disposed off a plea by an NGO on the ground that the Supreme Court was already apprehended with the issue and hence it was not inclined to entertain this writ petition.
However the bench agreed to examine the issue after the government told the court that the ground raised in this case was different from the plea pending before the apex court. According to the Centre’s earlier stand, the NGO’s plea highlighting the exception in Section 375 of the IPC which states that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, who is not under 15 years of age, is not rape, was pending for consideration before the Supreme Court.
NGO has contended that the exception in section 375 was brought about by way of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013, which was enacted after the horrific Nirbhaya case of December 16, 2012. It claimed that the exception to Section 375 of the IPC was to the extent that it granted immunity to a husband who rapes his wife, who is above 15 years of age, was unconstitutional and violates the Right to Equality guaranteed to married women under Article 14 of the Constitution
The petition further stated that marital rape has been criminalised in almost all major common law jurisdictions throughout the world, including in the US, the UK, South Africa and Canada. It has also contended that the criminalization of marital rape was also recommended by Justice J S Verma Committee in 2013. However, government has desisted from paying any attention,” it added.