Madhya Pradesh Court: UnnaturalSex with WifeNot Rape, Even Without Consent

Madhya Pradesh High Court rules that a husband engaging in unnatural sex with his wife without consent is not rape. The court's decision sparks controversy, highlighting the need to re-examine India's laws on marital rape and consent.

author-image
Rafia Tasleem
New Update
Madhya Pradesh Court: UnnaturalSex with WifeNot Rape, Even Without Consent

Madhya Pradesh Court: UnnaturalSex with WifeNot Rape, Even Without Consent

In a controversial ruling, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has stated that a husband engaging in unnatural sex with his wife, even without her consent, does not constitute rape. The decision, made on May 1, 2024, came as the court quashed an FIR lodged by a wife against her husband, accusing him of unnatural sex on multiple occasions.

Why this matters: This ruling highlights the need for a re-examination of India's laws regarding marital rape and consent, as it perpetuates a culture of impunity for husbands and neglects the rights and protection of women in marriages. The implications of this decision could have far-reaching consequences for women's safety and autonomy in India.

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia, who heard the petition, observed, "In view of the amended definition of 'rape' under Section 375 of IPC... any sexual intercourse or sexual act by the husband with his wife not below the age of fifteen years is not a rape, then under these circumstances, absence of consent of wife for unnatural act loses its importance." The court further noted, "Marital rape has not been recognised so far."

The case in question dates back to 2019, when the wife filed an FIR against her husband, alleging unnatural sexual acts on multiple occasions. The husband challenged the FIR and requested it be quashed, arguing that unnatural sex between him and his legally wedded wife residing with him would not be an offence under Section 377 of the IPC.

The High Court pointed out that the only exception to this ruling would be Section 376B of the IPC, where a sexual act with a wife would be considered rape if committed during judicial separation or otherwise. This decision is similar to a previous case on September 24, 2023, where the Madhya Pradesh High Court quashed an FIR filed against Congress MLA Umang Singhar by his wife for unnatural sex.

The Indian Penal Code's Section 375 defines rape, including the insertion of a penis in a woman's anus. While Section 377 criminalizes unnatural sex, it does not consider it an offence when committed by a husband with his "legally wedded wife residing with him". Marital rape is currently not recognized in Indian law, and multiple petitions challenging the marital rape exception are pending before the Supreme Court, with no hearing taking place since January 2023.

TheMadhya Pradesh High Court's rulinghas sparked controversy, highlighting the need for a re-examination of India's laws regarding marital rape and consent. As the Indian Penal Code is set to be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, on July 1, which retains the marital rape exception in Section 63, the debate surrounding the rights and protection of women in marriages continues to be a pressing issue in the country.

Key Takeaways

  • Madhya Pradesh High Court rules that unnatural sex by husband with wife, even without consent, is not rape.
  • Decision perpetuates culture of impunity for husbands and neglects women's rights in marriages.
  • Marital rape is not recognized in Indian law, with multiple petitions pending before the Supreme Court.
  • Indian Penal Code's Section 377 exempts unnatural sex between husband and wife from being an offence.
  • Ruling sparks controversy, highlighting need for re-examination of India's laws on marital rape and consent.