An NGO has moved the Supreme Court opposing the criminalisation of marital rape, saying it would destabilise the institution of marriage.
The petition filed by NGO Purush Aayog Trust through its president Barkha Trehan has sought the court’s intervention in a batch of petitions pertaining to the criminalisation of marital rape and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provision that provides protection to a husband against prosecution for forcible sexual intercourse if the wife is an adult.
The plea contended that the doctrine of separation of powers is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and the power to create an offence solely vests with the legislature.
“A marriage can end without any sufficient evidence pertaining to a case of marital rape. If there is any evidence of forcible intercourse, then there cannot be any other primary evidence other than the testimony of the wife. This can easily destabilise the institution of marriage,” the plea said.
The petition, filed through advocate Vivek Narayan Sharma, said over the years, numerous incidents have been reported across the country where men committed suicide due to false accusations made by women.
“There have been uncountable cases wherein married women have misused such provisions. Such cases include sexual harassment, 498A and domestic violence. If exception II of section 375, IPC is struck down, then it can become an ‘easy tool’ for wives to harass and puppet husbands, especially considering that the quantum of punishment in rape cases is much higher and the burden of proof is upon the accused.
“Any allegations of rape by the wife be treated as gospel truth on the word of the wife and the husband would be most likely incapable to lead any contra evidence, owing to the nature of the personal and married relationship,” it said.
The top court had, on January 16, sought the Centre’s response to a batch of petitions pertaining to the criminalisation of marital rape and the IPC provision that provides protection to a husband against prosecution for forcible sexual intercourse if the wife is an adult.
The Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, had told the bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud that the issue has legal as well as “social implications” and the government would like to file its response to the petitions.
The top court, which appointed lawyers Pooja Dhar and Jaikriti Jadeja as the nodal counsel, had said the parties will have to file their written submissions by March 3 for a smooth hearing of the petitions.