The Chhattisgarh High Court Thursday discharged a man from facing trial for allegedly raping his wife, given that Indian law does not recognise marital rape if the wife is above 15 years of age.
The High Court was hearing a criminal revision plea by the husband against the framing of charges based on the complaint by his wife. While charges under Section 376 (punishment for rape) were deemed to be “erroneous and illegal”, the court upheld the charges under Section 377 (unnatural offences) and Section 498A (relating to cruelty to women) against the husband.
Justice N K Chandravanshi relied upon an exception under Section 375 of the IPC, which states that “sexual intercourse or sexual act by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.” The judge, hence, noted, “in this case, complainant is legally wedded wife of applicant No. 1, therefore, sexual intercourse or any sexual act with her by the applicant No. 1/husband would not constitute an offence of rape, even if it was by force or against her wish.”
The wife’s complaint alleges that she was subjected to cruelty, abuse and dowry harassment days after her marriage. She has also alleged that her husband had unnatural physical relations with her, and despite her protests, inserted his fingers and a radish in her vagina.
Taking note of the allegations of cruelty, which have been supported by her parents and “neighbouring witnesses”, the judge held, “I do not find any infirmity in framing charges under Section 498-A/34 of the IPC against the applicants.”
The court also sustained the charges under Section 377, while observing that “where dominant intention of the offender is to derive unnatural sexual satisfaction, repeatedly insert any object in the sex organ of the victim and consequently derives sexual pleasure, such act would constitute as a carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”
Earlier this month, the Kerala High Court had held that marital rape is a valid ground for divorce even though it is not penalised in India, calling it “cruelty.”
— With inputs from Bar and Bench