The Delhi High Court today sought the government’s response on PIL challenging a provision in the penal law which does not consider sexual intercourse of a man with his minor wife as rape.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath agreed to examine the issue, which it had disposed of in July last, after the government told the court that the ground raised in this case was different from the plea pending before the apex court.
On hearing this, the court issued notice to the Union Government and asked it to file its reply to the review plea before March 23.
Earlier, the court had disposed of a plea filed by an NGO on the ground that Supreme Court was already seized with the issue and hence it was not inclined to entertain this writ petition.
Thereafter, the NGO had filed a petition seeking review of a July 8, 2015, order of the court.
The Centre had earlier informed the court that 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 gangrape 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.
It said that the exception was “unconstitutional and violative of the Right to Equality guaranteed to married women under Article 14 of the Constitution as it decriminalises rape when the perpetrator is the lawfully wedded husband of the victim”.
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.
“The criminalisation of marital rape was also recommended by Justice J S Verma Committee in 2013. However, government has desisted from paying any attention,” it added.