A Chronology Of Marital Rape Exception Under Indian Law

A chronology of marital rape exception under indian law

IPC came into force in 1860 with marital rape exception applicable to women above 10 years age. (File)

New Delhi:

Following is the chronology of events on the marital rape exception in criminal law and the issue of its criminalisation, on which the Delhi High Court Wednesday delivered a split verdict.

  • 1860: Indian Penal Code (IPC) comes into force with the marital rape exception being applicable to women above 10 years of age.
  • 1940: IPC is amended and the marital rape exception is made available to women above 15 years of age.
  • Jan 11, 2016: Delhi High Court issues notice to Centre and seeks its stand on the first petition challenging marital rape exception in IPC.  
  • Aug 29, 2017: Centre tells High Court that marital rape cannot be made a criminal offence as it might destabilise the institution of marriage.
  • Oct 11, 2017: Supreme Court reads down the marital rape exception and rules that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape. Earlier, exception 2 to section 375 stated that sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.
  • Jan 18, 2018: Delhi government tells High Court that marital rape is already an offence of cruelty under the law and a woman is entitled to refuse sexual relations with her husband.
  • Jan 7, 2022: The High Court begins day-to-day hearings on the petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape.
  • Jan 13: Centre tells High Court it is “already seized of the matter” and was considering a “constructive approach” to the issue of criminalising marital rape and has sought suggestions from stakeholders including state governments and union territories.
  • Jan 17: High Court asks Centre to clarify its in-principle position after time is sought to formulate and place its “considered stand”.
  • Jan 24: Centre urged before High Court to grant it a “reasonable time” to place its position, says criminalisation of marital rape involves issues that cannot be looked at from a “microscopic angle.”
  • Jan 28: High Court asks Centre to inform whether it wishes to withdraw its 2017 affidavit which said that marital rape cannot be made a criminal offence.
  • Feb 1: Centre tells High Court it is “re-looking” at its earlier stand which was brought on record by way of an affidavit filed several years ago and sought time to state its stand.
  • Feb 3: Centre urges High Court to defer hearing on pleas to criminalise marital rape and said it will provide a time-bound schedule within which it will carry out an effective consultative process on the issue.
  • Feb 7: High Court grants two weeks to the Centre to state its stand on the petitions.
  • Feb 21: High Court reserves verdict on petitions, refuses to grant more time to Centre saying it was not possible to adjourn an ongoing matter as there is no definite date by when the government’s consultations would be over on the issue.
  • May 11: High Court delivers a split verdict on the issue of criminalisation of marital rape and granted leave to the parties to file an appeal before the Supreme Court.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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