NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday rejected the Centre’s request for more time to respond to petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape and reserved its verdict in the case. The Central government had informed the Delhi High Court that it has sent a communication to chief secretaries of all the states, as well as the chairman of the National Commission of Women seeking a response on the criminalisation of marital rape. Earlier, the Centre was given two weeks to file a reply.
The division bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C Hari Shankar said it is not possible to adjourn an ongoing matter and “let the matter hang like this”. The court told the government that its consultation process can go on and added that it was closing the arguments. “Judgment reserved. List for directions on March 2. In the meantime, counsel for parties may file their written submissions and compilations,” the court stated.
While the Centre was supposed to begin its submissions on Monday by making its stand clear on the issue, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Centre can take a stand only after consultations with states and other stakeholders.
He said that as this case could have an impact on social and family life with far-reaching consequences, the Centre can place its stand only after a consultative process. The bench said, “The high court cannot let the matter hang like this. You can have a consultation going on. We will hear and reserve the judgment. But if you say the court should adjourn the matter endlessly, it will not happen. This is a matter which will be closed either through the court’s channel or legislature’s channel. It is now coming to a situation where we are coming to a logjam.”