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‘Sex with wife even by force or against her wishes not rape’, Chhattisgarh High Court acquits man on charges of marital rape

Chhattisgarh High Court observed that if the wife is not under 18 years of age, sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, even if it is without the wife's consent, does not amount to rape

The Chhattisgarh High Court has upheld a man’s acquittal on charges of marital rape, ruling that sexual intercourse between legally married men and women is not rape, even if it is forced or against the wife’s wishes.

During the hearing of the case pertaining to the issue of “marital rape”, the Chhattisgarh High Court observed that if the wife is not under 18 years of age, sexual intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, even if it is without the wife’s consent, does not amount to rape.

“In this case, the complainant is legally wedded wife of applicant No 1, therefore, sexual intercourse or any sexual act with her by the applicant No 1/husband would not constitute an offence of rape even if it was by force or against her wish,” the high court’s order read.

The court discharged the accused of the offence of marital rape. However, it upheld charges framed against him under Section 377 (unnatural sex) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The victim had approached the Chhattisgarh High Court accusing her husband of marital rape. She alleged that her husband inserted his finger and radish in her vagina. She protested the same, but her husband would not stop. She also alleged that her husband and his parents harassed her for dowry and beat her up.

Based on the complaint a sessions court had charged the husband under IPC sections 498-A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 376 (rape) and 377 (voluntary carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal). Her in-laws were also charged under the IPC section 498A.

The Chhattisgarh HC, however, acquitted the husband from all other charges except charges under IPC 377.

On August 6, the Allahabad High Court had also in a verdict had stated that sex with a minor ‘wife’ above the age of 15 will not be considered as ‘rape.’ The case was filed at the Bhojpur police station in Moradabad by the minor girl against her adult husband Khushabe Ali on charges of dowry, assault, criminal intimidation, and forced sex. The accused had then moved the High Court seeking bail in the case. While hearing the bail application of the husband accused of having sex with his minor wife, the Court ruled that it could not be held as ‘rape’. The verdict was given by Justice Md. Aslam of the Allahabad High Court.

Though the recent response from courts to complaints of marital rape has been contradictory, the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Crime in India’ 2019 report, about 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Even though numerous changes to criminal law have been made to safeguard women, the non-criminalization of marital rape in India violates women’s dignity and human rights.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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