The Supreme Court of India has announced that it will hear pleas on the issue of marital rape in mid-October. The pleas raise the question of whether a husband can be prosecuted for rape if he forces his wife, who is not a minor, to have sex.
The bench, consisting of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, acknowledged the need to hear these pleas. They stated that they would list the case for hearing after concluding other ongoing matters.
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that he would need two days to present his arguments, emphasizing that this issue has significant social implications. The counsel for the petitioners requested three days to present their arguments. Responding to this, the Chief Justice jokingly suggested that if they were to accommodate the requested time, the case would be heard in April next year. Nonetheless, the Chief Justice later confirmed that the pleas would be listed for hearing in mid-October.
Previously, senior advocate Indira Jaising had urgently requested a hearing for these pleas. The constitutional validity of an exception clause in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which exempts husbands from prosecution for non-consensual sexual intercourse with their spouse if she is an adult, is being challenged in these pleas. The bench expressed the need to resolve matters related to marital rape.
The Chief Justice clarified that a three-judge bench would hear these matters after the conclusion of ongoing hearings by constitution benches. In January, the Supreme Court had sought the government’s response on the criminalization of marital rape and the relevant IPC provision.