The Supreme Court today fixed May 9 for a detailed hearing on a batch of petitions pertaining to the criminalization of marital rape.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud. She told the bench that the order of arguments and common compilation in the case is ready.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Centre's reply is ready and has to be vetted. "List this on May 9, 2023," the bench said.

The apex court on January 16 sought a response from the Centre on a batch of petitions pertaining to the criminalization of marital rape. The Bench had asked the Union government to file its response on the issue by February 15 for the final hearing to commence on March 21.

On the same day, the Apex Court during the hearing of the plea had said that the Supreme Court will consider live-streaming its proceedings while hearing the marital rape exception under the penal laws relating to rape and other matters of national importance.

The Bench was hearing a miscellaneous application filed by Senior Advocate Indira Jaising regarding the conduct of live-streaming proceedings of the Supreme Court. The Senior Advocate had pleaded before the Court that issues of national importance such as marital rape exceptions may be live-streamed.

One of the pleas has been filed in relation to the Delhi High Court's split verdict on the issue. This appeal has been filed by Khushboo Saifi, one of the petitioners before the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court on May 11 last year delivered a split verdict on the issue.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the High Court had stuck down the impugned provisions of Section 375 IPC and had observed that that the husband would not fall under the definition of relative while Justice C. Hari Shankar had observed that in the marital relationship, given its unique character and complexity, the Legislature has advisedly felt that no allegation of 'rape' has place.

The Court's verdict came on PILs filed in 2015 and 2017 by NGOs RIT Foundation, All India Democratic Women's Association, a man and a woman seeking striking down of the exception granted to husbands under the Indian rape law.

Upon the split verdict being delivered by the High Court, an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.

While the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment delivered last year in a matter related to medical termination of pregnancy had observed that for the purposes of the MTP Act, 'marital rape' would also form a part of 'rape.'

With PTI Inputs