Marital Rape in India


The term “rape” is derived from the Latin expression “rapio, which implies to seize”. It implies the ravishment of women without wanting to or without her assent or with her assent, acquired by either forcibly, fear or by extortion.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal code defines rape as an unlawful sex between a man and a woman without the assent of woman or under any of the conditions specified under the section, will amount to rape. The committee headed by Justice J S Verma was approached to investigate potential corrections to criminal law for guaranteeing speedier trial and harsher the punishment towards individual blamed for carrying out rape of extraordinary nature on woman. The committee was ordered to present its report within thirty days from the date of notification. The committee in its report proposed corrections and bought changes in  sections 375, 376 and 376 A to 376 D of the Indian Penal Code for making the law in concern with rape, on woman and girls, which could prove be more effective and deterrent..

How Suggestions Turned Into Legislation

Most of these suggestions were given legislative effect. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, characterizes rape whereas Section 376 describes the punishment for the offence of rape. Be that as it may, the Act has neglected to secure the woman, who is exposed to rape by their own husband. Conjugal Rape, which is an exception to the definition of rape. It is a sexual intercourse between a man and his wife, without the assent of his own wife but, which he got by forcibly, danger of physical viciousness and mental torment. These are some conditions, where woman is not capable of giving her own consent, is supposed to be considered as a marital rape. In which the woman suffers the brutality of perversion by her own husband against her, amounting to physical and sexual abuse.

According to statistics, in every 6 hours a young married woman has been scorched or beaten to death out till the extent where for some the only way out is. The exception to Section 375 states that non-consensual sex by a man with his own wife, on the off chance that if she is over fifteen years, doesn’t add up to rape. As not recognized within the ambit of rape, it grants conjugal rape with a coercive and non-consensual sex by a spouse with his wife over fifteen years of age. This permits a husband to practice without risk of punishment, his conjugal right of non-consensual or undesired intercourse with his wife. It is believed that the husband’s invulnerability for marital rape is premised on the sexual inter course.

Therefore, her husband gets the privilege to have sex with her, regardless of the consent of the wife. According to the said law wife is under obligation to give up or surrender to his will and desire. It likewise focuses on safeguarding of family establishment by precluding the chance of bogus, manufactured and persuaded grievances of rape by spouse against her husband. However sexual intercourse with a wife, whose marriage with him is void as he was at that point wedded and had a living companion and who knew about the reality of the main marriage amounts to rape. Further non-consensual sex in terms of the act referenced in Section 375 (a) to (d) under the Indian Penal code, by an individual with his own wife who is under an announcement of partition or something else, is living independently is made an offense under the Indian Penal Code.

The punishment provided for non-consensual intercourse by a man with his wife living independently is anyway is compared to that which is provided under consensual or non-consensual sex. And where the wife is beneath the age of fifteen years old, falls under the exception to section 375, amounts to rape, which is exceptionally mild. No court is empowered to take cognizance of this offence upon the husband’s prima facie satisfaction depending upon the facts of the case.[i]

Conjugal Rape in India

If we investigate the legal parts of India, it plainly expresses that ” sexual intercourse by a man with his own better half, the wife not being under 15 years old, cannot be termed as rape”. And Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code gives punishment to assault. As per this section, the rapist ought to be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which can be extended up to 10 years and will likewise be at risk to be fined or both.

In T.Saretha v. T.Venkata Subbaiah[ii] case, it was held that, rights and obligations in marriage resemble a creation and disintegration and not the term of a private agreement between two people. Where, the right to privacy is not violated by the conjugal Association. Consequently, there is no punishment for marital rape and the remedy lies with her[iii].

Job of Judiciary in India                       

The requirement for another law on rape was felt. The previous law which prevails didn’t characterize and reflect the different kinds of rape.

 In Sakshi v. Union of India[iv], the Supreme Court had recognized the insufficiencies concerning with the law identifying rape and had recommended that the legislature ought to achieve changes in the law. After passing the criminal law amendment bill 2013, rape was reclassified as the most terrible event where the parliament by an amendment attempted to develop and enlarge the ambit of rape and the perception by causing oral and anal acts adding up to rape.

The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 has given different civil remedies and different provisions, for example, the cruelty and different issues are dealt under. There is an enormous number of victims under the marital rape scenario is being increased yet the legislature is uninformed to criminalize such an offense. The woman is ignorant of what the genuine situation is and the laws which are prevailing in the Indian penal code for them.

The Judicial decision over Queen-Empress v. Haree Mythee[v], held that the wife over the age of 15, at that point, had significant on rape law bearing in that circumstance. For this situation the husband was punished because the wife was of 11 years of age only.

In Sree Kumar v. Silvery Karun[vi], it was seen that, the wife doesn’t live independently with the husband under the Judicial separation and being dependent upon sex without her consent can add up to rape. Consequently, it was said that, the husband was not seen as guilty of raping his wife however he was accepted guilty of doing or committing the act. According to the Constitution of India, each law that is passed must comply with the standards and thoughts which are enshrined in the constitution. Any law which has been failed to fulfill its necessary guidelines can be viewed as ultra vires and can very well be struck down or be announced unconstitutional. Here, the exception of Section 375 withdraws the protection of a married woman on the basis of her conjugal status.

Independent Thought v. Union of India [2017][vii]

In a writ petition filed in public interest by society –Independent Thought, the Supreme Court has considered the scope and validity of exemption 2 of section 375 of IPC. The issue under the watchful eye of the court was to consider the acknowledgment of marital rape when the husband has sexual intercourse with the wife when she happens to be between15-18 years old. This is a milestone decision of Supreme Court whereby the court has held: Exception 2 to section-375 of the Indian Penal Code answers this in negative, however as we  think sexual intercourse with a girl underneath 18 years old is rape whether or not she is married or not. The exemption cut out in the IPC makes a superfluous and counterfeit differentiation between a wedded young girl youngster and an unmarried young girl and has no judicious nexus with any unclear goal looked to be accomplished.

The artificial differentiation is arbitrary and discriminating and certainly not to the greatest advantage of the girl child. The court additionally held that the artificial differentiation is contrary to the philosophy and ethos of articles 15(3) and 21of the Constitution just as the International convention. It unquestionably abuses the real bodily integrity of the girl child and her regenerative decisions. The petitioner society brought up that any individual who has sexual intercourse with a girl child underneath 18 years will be at risk for legally defined sexual rape regardless of whether it is with the assent of the minor girl and the circumstance is ridiculous when the guilty party happens to be her husband on the grounds that in such case the conjugal exception applies and the husband goes scott free and escapes the punishment totally.

 It is because of her marriage, the privilege of such young girl to her real bodily integrity and to decline sexual with her husband is taken away. Because of her marriage she doesn’t turn out to be intellectually or medically fit for such decisions. Pointing out the commitments of the Indian government under Convention on the Rights of the Child,1990 to embrace every single proper measure o forestall the sexual misuse and sexual maltreatment of any individual the court saw that the Indian government has persuaded the legislature to legitimize an activity which is otherwise heinous offense when happens without marriage. The duality of the conjugal exception statement is that it comes in sharp clash with the arrangements of POCSO and JJ Act.

The POCSO characterizes “penetrative sexual assault” which becomes aggravated when the wrongdoer is related to the victim. Since the Act has superseding effect, an extremely mind boggling and peculiar legal position rises whereby the husband is excluded from any offense under IPC and he gets obligated to be liable under aggravated sexual assault under POCSO Act 2012.  Also, under JJA, a married girl child underneath the age of 18 years requires care and assurance as she is prone to exploitation. The Supreme Court has brought up the legislative plan as is deducible from various legislation that a child is an individual beneath 18 years old who is qualified for the protection of her human rights; lamentably if she gets married while a child. Her marriage is infringing upon the law and voidable at her instance and the accused husband is obligated to be punished under POCSO.

The main jolting note is the exclusion allowed to him under the IPC. The court observed the fact that the Committee on Amendments to Criminal law, headed by Justice Verma has additionally brought up that the well-established thought of a wife being a compliant property of the husband is no longer a viable position The Committee has recommended the deletion of the marital rape exception under the IPC while referring that a rapist is a rapist independent of his relationship with the victim. Intending to harmonize the provision of the IPC, the POCSO Act, the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, the court has tried locating a resolution, which they feel, is best found in the Karnataka Amendment to the PCMA, 2006.

The state governing body has inserted a subsection (1-A) in section 3 of the PCMA  pronouncing that each marriage from now on will be void stomach muscle initio, if violative of the age necessities required. Therefore, the husband of a girl child will be held liable for the offenses under POCSO if the husband and the girl child are living respectively in a similar family. The court has seen that “it would be astute for all state lawmaking bodies to embrace the route taken by the Karnataka governing body to void child marriage and accordingly guarantee that sexual intercourse between a girl child and her husband is a culpable offense under the POCSO Act and the IPC.”The court has thought about different alternatives to decrease the strife of the girl child and observed.

We are left with definitely no other choice yet to harmonize the system of laws relating to children and require exemption 2 to section 375 IPC to now be definitively be perused as: “Sex or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, isn’t rape.” It is just through this perusing the purpose of social equity to the married girl child and the constitutional vision of the designers of the Constitution can be saved and secured and may be given impetus. The Independent idea judgment is for sure a distinctive delineation of legal activism and craftsmanship to give a socially practical translation to a provision incorporating a dead idea in the legislation.

And yet, it is baffling to take note of that how the Supreme Court on a greater number of events than one, has completely expressed that they might not want to say something on conjugal rape for the most part where the age of the spouse is at least 18, than18 years.[viii]

Model to criminalize the marital rape

We have focused on the prerequisite for the criminalization of marital rape and set up the need of doing as such. In this part, we propose a model for criminalization. We investigate it considering the current section for rape, for example section 375 of the IPC. Our primary point in this section is to give a draft enactment that will guarantee that the complexities of assent, the burden of proof and evidence are taken into consideration. The J.S. Verma Report, as examined in Part II, is the milestone report that reignited the discussion on marital rape in recent times. The committee gave a four-prong proposal to successfully condemn marital rape.

It is requested the expulsion of the exemption clause, it asked to explicitly refer to that it’s not a defense, that there would not be an assumption of consent and finally, that the quantum of punishment is the equivalent. Rather than this, the 42ndlaw Commission Report proposed that marital rape be placed into a different section, and not be called ‘marital rape’ and have an alternate punishment. In this part, we will examine the model we believe works best. However, we will likewise add our analysis concerning the law of evidence, since a significant obstacle for conviction in marital rape is difficult to prove it[ix].


It has been concluded that Indian laws have failed to give legitimate security to women as prior as the women are as yet treated as the property of husband and he has all the rights to misuse her and no remedies have been given. Even though a husband’s fear and a nonconsensual act of sexual intercourse may entitle the wife to bring an action for criminal assault, the fuse of the head of obligation for marital assault in our penal laws is absent. This prima facie violates articles 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution. Non-criminalization of marital rape is the major concern in the Indian lawful framework. To secure the ladies, the judiciary should take activities to shield them. Married women should be taken appropriate care and they ought not to be exposed to rape or brutality. Consequently, this section has an exceptionally narrow view in managing rape and as such till now there is no legal provision which secures the married woman.


[ii] AIR 1983 AP 356 Bench.

[iii] Https://

[iv] AIR 2004 SC 3566, 2004 (2) ALD Cri 504.

[v] (1890) 18 Cal 49.

[vi] 1999 (2) ALT Cri 77, II (1999) DMC 174.

[vii] (2017) 10 SCC 800.






  • Indian Penal Code,1860
  • Domestic Violence Act,2005
  • Constitution of India,1872
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

Possible Questions

  1. How is marital rape different from rape?
  2. Is marital rape legal in India?
  3. How Domestic Violence Act contributes to this marital rape?
  4. What is validity and scope of exception 2 of Section 375 in relation to marital rape? 

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