Criminalisation of Marital Rape has been a long outstanding debate in India. While at a macro level and at the face of it, social media users bat for the same, it is important to understand the other side and ground realities before pushing for any law which may seem ‘popular’ and driven by emotions.
Yesterday, Karuna Nundy, Supreme Court lawyer tweeted,
Our team is working hard on arguments to criminalise marital rape, listed again, before a new bench of Delhi High Court, on 7th January.
What is the Matter Listed For Jan 7?
Men Welfare Trust (MWT), a Men’s Rights NGO based out of Delhi has filed an urgent application requesting the Delhi high court to let them continue their arguments.
In 2017, the Delhi high court had agreed to examine the issue raised in PILs by advocate Karuna Nundy, who represented RIT Foundation and the All India Democratic Women’s Association, who sought striking down the exception in the Indian penal law that does not consider sexual intercourse with a wife, not less than 15 years of age, as rape.
The petitions were also sought setting aside of the exception in the rape law that protects husbands, saying that it violates the right to equality, freedom and to live life with dignity provided under the Constitution.
Stance by Delhi Government
The Delhi government had said that quashing the protection husbands enjoy against prosecution for marital rape would lead to “creation of an offence”, which is a legislative job and courts cannot create or legislate an offence, which would be the inevitable outcome of striking down of the exception in the IPC.
Stance by Modi Government
The Centre too opposed the main petitions saying marital rape cannot be made a criminal offence as it could become a phenomenon which may destabilise the institution of marriage and an easy tool for harassing the husbands
Men’s Rights NGO
MWT represented by Amit Lakhani (President) and Ritwik Bisaria (VP) opposed the PIL stating that married women have been given adequate protection under the law against sexual violence by their husbands.
Delhi High Court
A bench of then Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar posed various questions to the trusts representatives, who were made intervenors in the matter, and asked whether their stand was that a husband has a right to perpetrate sexual offence on his wife and could he force sex on his spouse?
To this, Lakhani and Bisaria replied in the negative and said there were existing provisions, including domestic violence law, harassment to married woman, unnatural sex, which provide adequate protection to a wife against sexual violence committed by the husband.
However, they strongly argued that no such protection is given to husbands as laws in India are gender specific and not gender neutral, unlike in most parts of the world.
The arguments remained inconclusive since July 2018 and thus this urgent application by these Men’s Rights Activists to conclude their arguments.
Speaking exclusively with Men’s Day Out, Amit Lakhani said,
Hon’ble Delhi High Court had graciously allowed our intervention on August 28, 2017 making us a party to present our side and argue in the matter party-in-person (PIP) through Amit Lakhani & Ritwik Bisaria. After the arguments of petitioners were concluded on February 09, 2018, court started hearing Arguments of Men Welfare Trust on April 3, 2018 after which the arguments could not continue as the then acting justice Geeta Mittal got elevated & transferred and the subsequent new bench did not sit for long followed by Covid pandemic.
Now the bench is again hearing the matter which is scheduled tomorrow January 07, 2022 and we are hoping that we will be given enough time to continue our arguments.
When a law is being discussed which would effect, men, woman & the entire family so to say then its important that the representation from husband’s side be given equal opportunity to be heard. So far the Hon’ble court has been very kind and given this side equal opportunity and we hope the same going forward.
Ritwik Bisaria added,
The Marital Rape PIL is yet another feminist attempt to get favourable judgments propagating anti male agendas. The PIL is infested with misrepresented judgments, convenient representation/concealment of international laws and a huge list of projected averments. Going on the basis of flawed representation of Exception being equal to license, their basic premise is itself full of male hatred.
This time we shall ensure that their wrong representations in the court of law don’t go unchallenged. We are there to represent men and emphasise that while wife has ample protection with the existing laws, husband has no protection, whatsoever. Men are Human Too.
Swarup Sarkar, Founder Member Save Family Foundation (SFF), another Men’s Rights NGO in Delhi quoted,
The petitioner had submitted various Judgments by concealing many facts of different country as reference , where the withdrawal of consent is key in a rape case We are trying our best to bring to the notice of honourable court that the withdrawal of consent is key in such cases, which petitioners have ignored in their submission.
Wishing our Boys good luck for tomorrow.
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