SC stays Karnataka HC judgment allowing trial of man for marital rape

A single judge bench of the high court said the institution of marriage cannot be used as a license for unleashing a "brutal beast" on the wife

Supreme Court
Supreme Court


The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a Karnataka High Court judgment, which allowed the trial of a husband for allegedly raping his wife.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising justices Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli, passed an order of ad-interim stay on the high court's judgment and also stayed the sessions court proceedings in connection with the FIR lodged by the wife against her husband.

"Until further orders, there shall be an ad-interim stay of the common impugned judgment and final order dated 23rd March, 2022 passed by the High Court of Karnatakaa and further proceedings in relation to Special C.Ca.. arising out of FIR bearing crimea... pending before the Additional City and Sessions and Special Court for cases under the POCSO Act, Bangalore."

The wife's counsel sought four weeks' time to file a counter-affidavit and the husband's counsel opposed this request for adjournment. "In view of the above, list the matter after one week," said the top court.

In May, the apex court had issued notice in the husband's plea against the high court judgment, but, had then refused to stay the high court's judgment and trial proceedings.

A single judge bench of the high court said the institution of marriage cannot be used as a license for unleashing a "brutal beast" on the wife. It said it is for the lawmakers to ponder over existence of such inequalities in law and for ages, man, donning the robes of a husband, has used the wife as his chattel.

The high court said: "A brutal act of sexual assault on the wife, against her consent, albeit by the husband, cannot but be termed to be a rape. Such sexual assault by a husband on his wife will have grave consequences on the mental sheet of the wife, it has both psychological and physiological impact on her."

In May, an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court challenging Delhi High Court's verdict that expressed 'split views' on criminalisation of marital rape. On May 11, a bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C. Hari Shankar expressed different opinions in the judgment on the exception to Section 375 of the IPC, which exempts forceful sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife from the offence of rape.

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