New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the central government to file a response on a PIL seeking to declare a provision in the penal law unconstitutional as it discriminates against married women sexually assaulted by their own husbands. A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issued notice to the government, seeking a response by March 23.
The PIL filed by NGO RIT Foundation challenged Indian Penal Code's section 375, saying it does not consider sexual intercourse of a man with his wife as rape. The court had last July disposed of a plea on the ground that Supreme Court was already seized with the issue, but on Monday the bench agreed to examine the issue after it was told that the ground raised in this case was different from the plea pending before the apex court. "The law as it stands today amounts to a state-sanctioned license granted to the husband to violate the sexual autonomy of his own lawfully wedded wife and is therefore, a violation of the Right to Privacy guaranteed to the wife under article 21 of the constitution of India," said the plea. "The exception to section 375 arbitrarily discriminates between women as it keeps the age of consent at 15 years for women who are in a wedlock whereas the same is 18 years in case of any other woman," it noted.