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Marital rape as a ground for divorce: Supreme Court asks petitioner to approach High Court

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking a direction to the Centre to frame appropriate guidelines for registration of FIR for marital rape and frame laws for making it a ground of divorce.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and B R Gavai asked the petitioner advocate Anuja Kapur to approach the high court for the relief. Kapur then withdrew her plea.

In the plea, she contended that there should be a clear guideline for registration of cases related to marital rape under framed guidelines and laws, so that accountability, responsibility and liability of the authorities concerned can be fixed.

She also sought direction to the government for fixing appropriate punishment/penalties for violation of the guidelines and laws to be framed and enacted respectively.

“Marital rape is no less an offence than murder, culpable homicide or rape per se. It denigrates the honour and dignity of a human being, and reduces her to a chattel to be utilised for one’s self convenience and comfort. It reduces a woman to a corpse, living under the constant fear of hurt or injury. Medical evidence proves that rape has severe and long-lasting consequences for women,” the plea said.

Kapur in her petition contended that at present there is an ambiguity in the implementation of the context of marital rape as a ground of punishment or penalty during the registration of such a case in ambit of law.

“There is a lot of confusion with the concerned authorities that under which law they should register an FIR/case related to marital rape. There should be a clear guideline for registration of the case of marital rape under framed guidelines and laws, so that accountability, responsibility and liability of the concerned authorities can be assigned and, penalties and punishments be awarded to safeguard the fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution and dignity of the woman in marriage,” it said.

The plea said that since marital rape at present is not a crime, there is no FIR registered by a wife against her husband in any police station. Rather, it is being compromised by the police authorities to maintain the sanctity of the marriage between the victim and the husband, the plea said.

“As marital rape is not a ground for a divorce in Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 and Special Marriage Act, 1954, it cannot be used as a ground for divorce and cruelty against husband,” it said.

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