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Quashing exception in rape law would create new offence: Delhi

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The today told the that quashing the protection husbands enjoy against prosecution for marital rape, where a spouse indulges in sexual relations without the other's approval, would lead to "creation of an offence", which is a legislative job.

The contended that courts cannot create or legislate an offence, which would be the inevitable outcome of striking down of the exception in the Indian that does not consider forcible with wife as

The argument was made before a bench of Acting Chief Justice and Justice C The bench did not agree with the submission, and said: "We will declare it as unconstitutional. We will not legislate. The impact of which the state will have to deal with".

Nandita Rao, however, said striking down the exception in the law would lead to creation of an offence - marital - and to that extent the court's verdict would not be legal.

Disagreeing with the argument, the bench said if her contention is accepted it would lead to a situation where any law which says something is not an offence cannot be challenged, as setting it aside would lead to creation of an offence.

Rao was also of the view that by quashing the exception, the court would be giving primacy to women who have suffered at the hands of their husbands as compared to those who have been subjected to physical battery, cruelty and mental harassment for years.

To this, the bench said that even the legislature has graded offences, starting from hurt and ending at murder, according to the degree of injury suffered by an individual.

During the more than an hour long argument, Rao said is considered an act of domestic violence under domestic and as cruelty under Indian Penal Code, and therefore, there was no need to interfere with the exception to the law.

She said even the restitution of conjugal rights ordered by a court under the cannot force a woman to have sexual relations with her husband who will then only have the remedy of seeking divorce on the ground of cruelty.

She said no law or court can compel or force a woman to have with her husband.

However, the bench disagreed, saying "it is not whether anyone can compel. The issue is there is compulsion".

"Something is an offence when committed. But here the legislature says if married then it is not an offence," the court added as arguments by the concluded.

The hearing in the matter will continue on February 21.

The court was hearing PILs, by and All as well as two individuals, seeking a declaration that the law under the IPC to the extent it discriminates against the sexual assault of married women by their husbands, is unconstitutional.

The petitions have also sought setting aside of the exception in the law that protects husbands, saying that it violates the right to equality, freedom and to live life with dignity provided under the Constitution.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 19:15 IST