The Union of India has filed an additional affidavit today in one of the Writ Petitions, part of the batch of cases seeking criminalization of marital rape, being heard by the Delhi High Court.

In its latest affidavit, the Centre has sought for deferring the hearing, stating that it is in the process of holding consultations with stakeholders, including the states.

The request on behalf of the Center by the Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma on the 1st February for adjournment by a week, stating that the Center was relooking at the earlier stand taken, was declined by the Bench. It is in that context that the Center has filed the present affidavit.

The Center questions in the undue haste in deciding the matter. "..the petition is filed in the year 2015. The provisions whose validity is challenged is in existence since inception. It is only because one of the petitioners suddenly mentioning the matter for final hearing during the present pandemic that the hearing has commenced leaving no time for the Central Government to deliberate upon the issues and the implications involved with all stake holders as such an exercise, by its very nature, takes a reasonable time", the affidavit says.

The affidavit states that the absence of a consultative process will result in injustice to one section or the other.

A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C Hari Shankar is hearing the cases on a day to day basis. Arguments of the Petitioners are almost over.

The Center states in the affidavit that, "..considering the social impact involved, the intimate family relations being the subject matter and this Hon'ble Court not having the privilege of having been fully familiarized with ground realities prevailing in different parts of Society of this large, populous and diverse country, taking a decision merely based on the arguments of a few lawyers may not serve the ends of justice".

The affidavit starts by saying the government is committed to fully and meaningfully protecting the liberty, dignity and rights of every woman and the subject matter involved in the case has far-reaching socio-legal implications in the country.

Interestingly, the affidavit is along the same lines as the centre's previous affidavit filed last month, which refers to the ongoing consultative process. The Center is not adopting the stand it had adopted in its written submission filed by it 2017, wherein the cases were strongly opposed on merit.

Click here to read/download the Affidavit