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Delhi high court to hear petition on marital rape

A file photo of the Delhi high court. The Delhi high court  appointed advocate Raju Ramachandran as amicus curiae (friend of the court) for assisting it in hearing the controversial petition and posted the matter for further hearing on 20 September. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/MintPremium
A file photo of the Delhi high court. The Delhi high court appointed advocate Raju Ramachandran as amicus curiae (friend of the court) for assisting it in hearing the controversial petition and posted the matter for further hearing on 20 September. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Delhi high court says it will continue to hear petition on marital rape as issues raised in it were different from those raised in a similar petition filed in the Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday said it would continue to hear a petition on marital rape filed before it as the issues and questions raised in it were different from those raised in a similar petition filed in the apex court.

The court appointed advocate Raju Ramachandran as amicus curiae (friend of the court) for assisting it in hearing the controversial petition and posted the matter for further hearing on 20 September.

The matter has been raised in a plea filed by a non-governmental organization, RTI Foundation, seeking to strike down the exception under Section 375 (rape) of IPC (Indian Penal Code) which allows non-consensual sexual intercourse between a man and his wife if she is over 15 years of age.

The petitioners had claimed that such an exception violates the rights of citizens under Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution, and argued that it was against the interests of women.

The centre filed an affidavit on the petition on August 30, arguing against striking down this exception.

“What may appear to be marital rape to an individual wife, it may not appear so to others. As to what constitutes marital rape and what would constitute marital non-rape needs to be defined precisely before a view on its criminalization is taken," the affidavit said.

The centre’s stand on the matter has been criticised in several quarters.

The petition before the Supreme Court deals with the specific issue of a provision permitting a man to have a sexual relationship with a wife aged between 15 and 18 (even though an individual is considered an adult only on attaining 18 years of age). The petition before the high court deals with the issue of marital rape as a whole.

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