Marital Rape Not An Offence If Wife Is 18 Or Above, Says Allahabad High Court

New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court has observed that marital rape cannot be considered an offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) if the wife is above the age of 18. The court made these remarks while acquitting a husband of charges of committing an ‘unnatural offence’ against his wife.

While holding that the accused in this case cannot be convicted under Section 377 of the IPC, the bench of Justice Ram Manohar Narayan Mishra stated that marital rape has not been criminalised in this country as yet, Live Law reported.

The High Court also noted that since the petitions seeking the criminalisation of marital rape are still pending before the Supreme Court, there is no criminal penalty for marital rape when the wife is 18 years of age or older until the top court decides the matter. The Allahabad High Court, endorsing a previous observation of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, also stated that there is no place for any ‘unnatural offence’ (as per Section 377 IPC) to take place in a marital relationship.

In her plea, the complainant alleged that their marriage was an abusive relationship, and the husband allegedly subjected her to verbal and physical abuse and coercion, including acts of sodomy. The court convicted him under sections related to cruelty by the husband or relatives of the husband (498-A) and voluntarily causing hurt (IPC 323) while acquitting him of charges under Section 377, according to the report.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court agreed to list pleas to criminalise marital rape. The central government had submitted before the top court that criminalising marital rape would have “social ramifications”.

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