Delhi HC tells Centre to clarify its stand on marital rape criminalization. Centre seeks time to formulate a “considered stand”

On the issue of criminalizing marital rape, the Centre told Delhi HC that it was considering a 'constructive approach'

On the issue of criminalizing marital rape, the Centre told Delhi HC that it was considering a 'constructive approach'
On the issue of criminalizing marital rape, the Centre told Delhi HC that it was considering a 'constructive approach'

Centre seeks extra time from Delhi HC to answer to pleas in search of criminalization of marital rape

The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre to clarify its position in principle on the issue of criminalizing marital rape. HC asked Centre to clarify after the Solicitor General sought time to formulate and place its “considered stand”. Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who is heading the bench dealing with a batch of petitions challenging the legality of the marital rape exception in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said that the Centre has to say “yes or no” as in issues such as the present one, deliberation does not end.

“In a matter like this, they (Centre) have to in principle say yes or no because if they don’t, however much they may deliberate, it is not going to come to an end,” said Justice Shakdher. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that it will not be appropriate to place before the court a “less discussed and consulted stand” and time was needed to undertake the process of consultation. “I don’t mind that (consultation) but they have to take a decision which way they are going…there are some matters, for whatever reasons, I think the court ultimately decides one way or the other and that’s how it gets resolved. You take your time,” Justice Shakdher observed.

“Yes and no is the end product of consultation,” responded Mehta who also submitted that “nothing imminent was going to happen within a couple of weeks”. The Union Home Ministry has initiated a process to revamp the Indian Penal Code and other decades and century-long Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act for the past one year.

“We have to formulate our stand and place our considered stand for your lordship and considering that this a 2015 matter if your lordship can grant us a reasonable time. This might need a little consultation etc,” the Solicitor General said. The bench, which also comprised Justice C Hari Shankar, said that it would continue to hear other lawyers appearing in the case which would give time to the Centre. “You come back. We will decide how much time to give you then,” the bench told the top law officer.

The Centre, on January 13, had told the High Court that it was considering a “constructive approach” to the issue of criminalizing marital rape and has sought suggestions from several stakeholders and authorities on comprehensive amendments to the criminal law. Central Government standing counsel Monika Arora had told the bench that the Centre was undertaking a comprehensive task of amending the criminal law which includes section 375 (rape) of the IPC.

There were pro and anti opinions were triggering in India after the Delhi High Court started hearing petitions on the criminalization of marital rape. Recently PGurus Managing Editor Sree Iyer had conducted a talk with noted men’s rights activist Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj. The debate can be viewed below:

The bench is hearing PILs filed by NGOs RIT Foundation, All India Democratic Women’s Association, a man and a woman seeking striking down of the exception granted to husbands under the Indian rape law.

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