The Karnataka High Court has refused to quell rape charges filed by a wife against her husband, ruling that the marriage doesn’t confer any special male privilege or a license for unleashing a “brutal beast” on the wife.
“Institution of marriage does not confer, cannot confer and in my considered view, should not be construed to confer, any special male privilege or a license for unleashing of a brutal beast. If it is punishable to a man, it should be punishable to a man albeit, the man being a husband,” justice M Nagaprasanna said in his verdict, declining to accept the husband’s plea that he cannot be tried for marital rape under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“In my considered view, such an argument cannot be countenanced. 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 bench pointed out.
In March 2017, the woman accused her husband of sodomy, aggravated sexual harassment assault of her 9-year-old daughter, domestic violence, causing hurt. On completing their investigation, the police added section 376 of IPC which relates to punishment for rape, and sections 5 (m) and (l) and section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which relate to repeated penetrative sexual assault.
The trial court eventually framed charges for rape, cruelty by husband and criminal intimidation, prompting the man to appeal against the subordinate court’s decision.
Justice Nagaprasanna refused the man’s plea to drop the rape charges on the ground that section 375 does not criminalise sex between a man and his wife, even if it is forced.