SC refuses to stay trial, issues notice in a marital rape case

The top court refused to stay trial in the case. The matter would be heard in July.
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice in a plea filed by a husband challenging a Karnataka High Court order that had refused to quash the trial in an alleged marital rape case filed against him by the wife. The top court refused to stay trial in the case. The matter would be heard in July.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the wife on caveat while opposing the stay submitted that the trial had been stayed for over five years and that the woman had been waiting indefinitely for the beginning of the trial.

In the case, Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High court had held that “in the peculiar facts and circumstances” of the case, when the husband “rapes” a wife, he cannot claim the protection of exception enumerated under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), since the exemption is not “absolute”.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave, appearing for the petitioner-husband, submitted that the trial is starting on May 29.

The high court had noted that it was dealing with the particular facts of the case and not on the constitutionality of the provision.

“All human beings under the Constitution are to be treated equally, be it a man, be it a woman and others. Any thought of inequality, in any provision of law, would fail the test of Article 14 of the Constitution... It is for the lawmakers to ponder over the existence of such inequalities in law...” the high court had said in its order.

“...The age-old thought and tradition that the husbands are the rulers of their wives, their body, mind and soul should be effaced. It is only on this archaic, regressive and preconceived notion, that cases of this kind are mushrooming in the nation....A brutal act of sexual assault on the wife, against her consent, albeit by the husband, cannot but be termed to be a rape...Such acts of husbands scar the soul of the wives. It is, therefore, imperative for the lawmakers to now “hear the voices of silence,” the high court added.

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