Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 1
The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a PIL seeking a direction to the government to put in place guidelines for registration of FIRs in marital rape cases and frame appropriate laws and bye-laws to make it a ground or divorce.
A Bench headed by Justice SA Bobde asked petitioner Anuja Kapur to move the Delhi High Court, which was already seized of the matter.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as sexual intercourse without consent and against the will of a woman. But Exception to the Section 375 says sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, who is 15 or above, is not rape even if it is without her consent and against her will.
This the second time in recent years that the top court has refused to entertain a PIL on the contentious issue. In 2015, it had refused to entertain a Delhi-based woman MNC executive’s plea to declare marital rape a criminal offence, saying it wasn’t possible to order a change in the law for one person. She had complained that her husband repeatedly resorted to sexual violence but she was helpless because of the legal position that didn’t treat marital rape as a crime.
In her petition filed in March, Kapur, an advocate by profession, contended that clear guidelines for registration of case related to marital rape were needed to ensure accountability, responsibility and liability of those concerned and safeguard married women’s fundamental right to live with human dignity. As marital rape was not a ground for a divorce in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, and Special Marriage Act, 1954, it couldn’t be used as a ground for divorce and cruelty against husband, she had pointed out.
Citing a National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the petitioner had submitted that five per cent of married women between 15-49 years of age in India reported that their husbands had physically forced them to have sexual intercourse even when they didn’t want it.
‘Protect right to live with dignity’
The petitioner, an advocate, sought clear guidelines for registration of cases related to marital rape to safeguard married women’s fundamental right to live with dignity
5% married women from 15-49 years of age reported forced intercourse by husbands, as per NHFS data
2.5% claimed their husbands forced them to perform any other sexual act which they didn’t want to do
Bihar, Haryana ‘surpass’ national average
At the state level, 11.4% women in Bihar, 10.6% in Manipur, 9% in Tripura, 7.4% in West Bengal, 7.3% in Haryana and 7.1% in Arunachal reported they were physically forced by husbands to have sexual intercourse even when they did not want to, as per the NHFS data
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