Marital Rape Case: What Next After Delhi High Court Split Verdict?

The Big Story

May 12 2022 • 15 mins

On the long-standing question of criminalising marital rape, the Delhi High Court on 11 May delivered a split verdict in a batch of petitions challenging the exception provided to marital rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the two-judge bench held that Exception 2 under Section 375, which says that any sexual acts by a husband with his wife are not rape, is unconstitutional, while Justice C Hari Shankar held that the provision is valid and that there's no ground for the court to strike the exception down.

While this section has undergone a series of amendments over the years, emphasising the importance of consent, this pre-colonial exception of marital rape continues to exist even in the 21st century.

Essentially, this exception allows marital rights to a husband who can, with legal sanction, exercise his right to consensual or non-consensual sex with his wife.

But what happens next, and what does this verdict mean for the conversation on marital rape? And where does the case go from here?

To understand the verdict and its significance, I'm joined today by The Quint's Legal Editor Vakasha Sachdev, and Radhika Roy, an advocate based in Delhi and former Associate Editor at LiveLaw.

Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram
Editor: Vakasha Sachdev

Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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