Senior advocate Rebecca John on Monday told the Delhi High Court that she has been receiving hate mails for her stance of marital rape, PTI reported.
John is one of the amici curiae – friends of the court – who have been appointed to assist the court with a batch of petitions demanding criminalisation of marital rape.
These petitions have challenged Exception 2 of the Indian Penal Code Section 375 that exempts husbands from being punished even if they have non-consensual sex with their wives.
“To all those who asked me to recuse [myself] from the matter because I have an opinion on the subject… I’ve been receiving a lot of hate mail,” she said, PTI reported. “Ultimately the challenge is only to be tested on the anvil of constitutionality. If it is constitutionally sound, the exception remains. If it is unconstitutional, it goes. It doesn’t matter what views we hold on the subject.”
Justice C Hari Shankar, who is part of the bench hearing the cases, said that if having a view was the grounds for withdrawing a juror, then every person involved in the case could be removed.
John had argued before the court that forced intercourse violates a wife’s right to bodily integrity and the autonomy to make decisions regarding sex.
She also highlighted the fact that the offence of rape was gendered – the “consent” of a woman is taken into account while examining the charges.
John cited the Justice JS Verma Committee report on amendments to criminal law, which had suggested erasing the marital rape exception from the offence.
The senior lawyer also said that the punishment offered to the culprits in such cases does not help the woman, Bar and Bench reported.
“All we seem to be doing is putting people into jail for a very long time,” she said. “This does not help the victim and therefore this is something that needs to be considered. We must have a sentencing policy. We must have a sentencing board.”
She said that a sentencing policy was required in matters of marital rape.
On Tuesday, as the hearing of the petitions continued, the Centre said that criminalising marital rape involves “family issues” and cannot be seen from a “microscopic angle”.