Karnataka HC says man should be tried for rape of wife

The Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court. File photo: IANS

Bengaluru: A man cannot be exempted from facing trial for rape only because the victim of his brutal act of sexual assault is his wife, the Karnataka High Court held on Wednesday, and suggested that lawmakers should heed the "voices of silence".

The age-old regressive thought that the husbands are the rulers of their wives, their body, mind and soul should be effaced, a single bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna said while refusing to interfere with the proceedings initiated against the petitioner on charges of rape, cruelty, along with offences under the POCSO Act, for alleged sexual acts against his wife and daughter.

The court said such sexual assault by a husband on his wife will have "grave consequences on the mental state of the wife: it has both psychological and physiological impact on her".

Further stating that such acts of husbands scar the soul of the wives, the court observed that it is, therefore, imperative for the lawmakers to now "hear the voices of silence".

The court held that any such exemption for husbands will go against Article 14 which guarantees the right to equality.

"If a man, a husband, a man he is, can be exempted from the allegation of commission of ingredients of Section 375 of the IPC (rape), inequality percolates into such provision of law," the court said.

All human beings under the Constitution are to be treated equally, be it a man, be it a woman and others, it said, adding any thought of inequality, in any provision of law, would fail the test of Article 14 of the Constitution.

"Woman and man being equal under the Constitution cannot be made unequal by Exception-2 to Section 375 of the IPC," it further said, noting that it is for the lawmakers to ponder over the existence of such inequalities in law.

"For ages man donning the robes of a husband has used the wife as his chattel; but his crude behavior notwithstanding his existence because of a woman, the court said.

"The age-old thought and tradition that the husbands are the rulers of their wives, their body, mind and soul should be effaced. It is only on this archaic, regressive and preconceived notion, the cases of this kind are mushrooming in the nation."

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