[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court of India on Monday, July 02, 2019, declined to examine a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a lawyer Anuja Kapur seeking directions to the Central Government to frame suitable guidelines on the registration of First Information Reports for marital rape and to frame an appropriate law to make marital rape a ground for divorce.
The matter was heard by a two-judge bench, comprising Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai, which told the petitioner to approach the Delhi High Court with her plea.
In her petition, Kapur had said that to maintain the dignity of women in marriage and keeping in mind the welfare, well-being and in the interest of the public, the apex court should pass suitable directions to the respondent, Union of India.
There are already are a series of petitions pending in the Delhi High Court under RIT Foundation v. Union of India demanding the criminalization of marital rape. A marital rape victim has also joined the petition as an intervener.
The petitions before Delhi High Court challenge Exception 2 to Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) which says that sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.
The petitions in the high court have also challenged Section 376B of the IPC, which says that whoever has sexual intercourse with his own wife, who is living separately, whether under a decree of separation or otherwise, without her consent, shall be punished with imprisonment of a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to a fine. This differential punishment has been challenged as being arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Why Shashi Tharoor’s private member Bill demanding criminalisation of marital rape is a step in the right direction