The Centre on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it was having a relook at its previous stand on marital rape that was put on record before it in 2017 in response to the petitions challenging the Exception 2 in IPC Section 375 that protects men, who have forced non-consensual intercourse with their wives, from criminal prosecution under Section 376 IPC.
“The learned Solicitor (General) had said that we will be re-looking at the affidavit. These are affidavits quite back in point in time in 2015-2017,” Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma submitted before the division bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C. Hari Shankar.
The Centre also clarified that no new written submissions were filed in the case last month. The court had last week asked the government to clarify whether it would withdraw the reply filed earlier in 2017.
Earlier on Tuesday, the court had observed that the arguments in the case were going “back and forth” and the same judgments were being read over and over again. “We actually want to hear the government, what they want to say. If the government does not want to say, then we will go by the affidavit which is there on record because their stand is on record,” it said.
The bench also said that there are only two ways of closing the issue. “One is the legislative route, the other is a court decision. There is no third way of closing this issue. You people need to make up your mind whether you need to stick to the position that you have taken in the counter affidavit or you will change it. If you want to change it, then you must let us know,” it told the Centre.
Stating that what “may appear to be marital rape” to a wife “may not appear so to others”, the central government in 2017 had submitted that striking down the exception “may destabilise the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing the husbands”. It had also cited the “rising misuse of Section 498A of IPC”— cruelty by husband or husband’s relative against a woman – to show how laws dealing with violence against women can be misused “for harassing the husbands”.
The court since last month has been hearing the matter on a daily basis. On January 13, the Centre told the court that it has started consultations with various stakeholders on the question of criminalisation of marital rape and would place a fresh stand before the court. The bench in the meantime has been hearing arguments of other parties in the case.