The Supreme Court today said it would hear on September 16 the pleas arising out of the Delhi High Court's split verdict on the issue of criminalisation of marital rape.

The High Court on May 11 delivered a verdict with one of the judges favouring striking down the exception in the law that grants protection to husbands from being prosecuted for non-consensual sexual intercourse with their wives, the other refused to hold it unconstitutional.

However, both the judges had concurred with each other for granting the certificate of leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in the matter as it involves substantial questions of law that requires a decision from the apex court.

Two petitions arising out of the High Court's May 11 verdict came up for hearing before a Bench comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice B V Nagarathna today.

The counsel appearing for one of the appellants said they are seeking that the Apex Court decides the substantial question of law involved in the matter. The counsel said both the judges of the Division Bench of the High Court had granted the certificate of leave to appeal to the Apex Court.

"Otherwise also, this matter has to be heard," the Bench observed, adding one more plea on the issue was earlier mentioned before it. "Let the other matter come, we will tag all of them," the Bench said.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who headed the Division Bench of the High Court, had favoured striking down the marital rape exception and said it would be tragic if a married woman's call for justice is not heard even after 162 years since the enactment of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Justice C Hari Shankar, who was part of the High Court's Division Bench, had said the exception under the rape law is not unconstitutional and was based on an intelligible differentia having a rational nexus with the object of the exception as well as section 375 (rape) of the IPC itself.

The petitioners before the High Court had challenged the constitutionality of the marital rape exception under section 375 IPC (rape) on the ground that it discriminated against married women who are sexually assaulted by their husbands.

Under the exception given in section 375 of the IPC, sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being minor, is not rape.

The High Court's verdict had come on PILs filed 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.

With PTI inputs