Two judges of the Delhi High Court gave a split verdict on the question of criminalising rape within marriage, leaving the law unchanged.
- Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who headed the Bench, struck down as unconstitutional the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which says that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife aged 18 and above is not rape even if it is without her consent.
- The right to withdraw consent at any given point in time forms the core of the woman’s right to life and liberty which encompasses her right to protect her physical and mental being,” Justice Shakdher said, calling for a change in the 162-year-old law.
- However, Justice C. Hari Shankar rejected the plea to criminalise marital rape noting that any change in the law has to be carried out by the legislature since the issue requires consideration of social, cultural and legal aspects.
- In India, marital rape is not defined in law.
- The High Court’s verdict came on a bunch of petitions, including by NGO RIT Foundation, the AIDWA and a marital rape victim.