Wife can seek divorce, criminal law remedies, Delhi govt on marital rape criminalisation


New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Contending that a married woman is not without remedies on the marital rape matter, the Delhi government on Tuesday told the High Court said in such situations, a wife can always depend on divorce under the ground of cruelty or other remedies under criminal law.

A bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar and Justice Rajiv Shakdher was hearing a batch of petitions challenging Section 375(2) of the IPC which exonerates a husband from the punishment of rape for forcible physical relations with his legally wedded wife without her consent.

Advocate Nandita Rao, represented the Delhi government, said just because this is not a criminal offence under Sections 375, does that create a compulsion on a woman to have sex with her husband? “The answer is no.”

The government counsel also pointed out that the option for divorce is there both under Hindu and Muslim law. The woman also has a right to register a criminal case under Section 498A IPC. As of today, FIRs are registered by the spouses under Section 377, 498A and 326 of IPC, Rao added.

However, the bench observed that the point here is not about divorce and it is about what if an offence has taken place forcefully.

It was also noted that an offence can affect a non-married woman’s dignity as well as a married woman’s dignity.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday also.

During Monday’s hearing, the court had noted that there is no compromise with a woman’s right to sexual and bodily integrity, and the husband has no business to compel her.

It also had said that the marriage gives a legal right to expect reasonable sexual relations from the partner.

“We are not recognising the difference if we are saying that they are at par. When a party gets married, each has an expectation, and to an extent a right also, to expect a normal sexual relationship from each other, which does not exist if there is no marriage,” it observed.



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