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Rape is a Rape, Even if Done by the Husband: Karnataka High Court

A single-judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna refused to quash rape charges filed by a woman against her husband and called on lawmakers to hear the “voices of silence.”

Karnataka HC

In a case of marital rape, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday said that marriage is no license to “unleash a brutal beast.” A single-judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna of the Karnataka High Court, defying the exception in the law, refused to quash rape charges filed by a wife against her husband and, rather, called on lawmakers to hear the “voices of silence.”

In a landmark order that allowed framing of rape charges against a husband accused of forcing his wife to be a “sex slave”, the judge said, “A man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the ‘husband’ on the woman ‘wife’.” The “age-old…regressive” thought that “husbands are the rulers of their wives, their body, mind and soul should be effaced,” the court said.

While not clearly knocking down the marital rape exception, the court forced the married man to face trial for rape charges brought by his wife. The husband had moved to the High Court after a trial court took cognisance of the offence under Section 376 (rape).

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According to a condition mentioned in IPC Section 375, “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”

In 2018, a similar case was brought before the Gujarat High Court in which a man sought cancelling of the rape case against him filed by his wife. Although the court quashed the FIR to remove the rape charges, it gave elaborate reasoning on the need to criminalise marital rape.

The Constitutionality of the marital rape exception is currently under challenge before the Delhi and Gujarat High Courts, say reports.

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