Prayagraj: The Allahabad High Court, in a recent verdict, ruled that husbands cannot be charged with marital rape under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) if the wife is 18 years of age or older. Justice Ram Manohar Narayan Mishra based his verdict on a Madhya Pradesh High Court judgment stating that Section 375 IPC, which deals with rape, encompasses all forms of penile penetration, rendering Section 377 irrelevant in consensual marital acts.
Justice Mishra, while acquitting the accused of unnatural sex under Section 377, partly allowed the revision petition. He highlighted that the proposed Bhartiya Nyay Sanhita, which aims to replace the IPC, does not include Section 377. However, the accused’s conviction under IPC sections 498A (dowry harassment) and 323 was upheld by the court.
The court acknowledged ongoing demands to criminalize marital rape but emphasized that, until the Supreme Court weighs in, such acts are not criminal offences when the wife is 18 or older. It further noted that the lower court’s findings on other charges were free from factual or legal errors. The December 6th judgment pointed out that medical evidence did not support the allegation of unnatural sex.