Delhi HC Reserves Judgment In Cases Seeking Criminalization Of Marital Rape, Without Awaiting Center's Stand On Merit
The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C. Hari Shankar has reserved its judgment in the batch of cases challenging an exemption to the definition of rape in the IPC, thereby seeking criminalization of marital rape.
The matter had been heard at length, over many days and was adjourned to today for the Central government to make its stand clear on the issue.
The Central government had filed a written submission in the year 2017 strongly opposing the cases on merit. However, the centre then took a stand that it is in the process of consultation over the issue with states and union territories and only after the process will it be in a position to take a stand on the issue. It had filed an affidavit yesterday reiterating the said position.
Today, when the matter was taken, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the Central Government.
Tushar Mehta informed the Court that the process of consultation is ongoing and that the centre had not received any response from any of the states.
Tushar Mehta submitted that the hearing should be deferred till the Center completes the process of consultation. Mehta also pointed out that the letter addressed to the states highlights the pendency of the cases and the urgency involved in the matter.
The Court said that since there is a challenge to the statutory provision that is pending before the Court, it is bound to consider it.
"We cannot let the matter hang like this", Justice Rajiv Shakdher said in response. Your consultation process can go on, we will hear the matter and reserve the judgment, if you can come back and report in the meantime, we can consider it, the Bench said.
Tushar Mehta reiterated that since any decision will have serious repercussions, the Center can take a stand in the matter only after consultation.
"This is like a 'thrishanku' you are neither here nor there", the Court then said. In response, Mehta submitted that there is no 'thrishanku' and that the Centre cannot say yes or no in a matter like this without consultation.
The Court, however, insisted that Tushar Mehta should start his arguments and stated that its stand can be modified in accordance with the result of the consultation and that the Court will take that into account before passing the judgment.
"Argue on the law, tell me when do you want to start?", Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked.
Tushar Mehta replied by saying that though he is an officer of the Court, he is also a law officer of the Government and that he cannot go beyond what is stated in the affidavit filed by the Center.
The Court then reserved the matters for judgment, while stating that the cases will be listed once again on 2nd March for directions regarding the filing of written submissions, convenience compilations etc.