The Delhi High Court will pronounce its verdict on the petitions seeking to criminalise marital rape at 2.30 pm on Wednesday, reported Live Law.

On February 21, a bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C Hari Shankar had reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking to remove Exception 2 in the rape law under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. The exception states that forcible sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape unless the wife is below 15 years of age.

Non-Governmental Organisations’ RIT Foundation and All India Democratic Women’s Association and two individuals had filed petitions on the matter, Live Law reported. The Court had also appointed Senior Advocates Rebecca John and Rajshekhar Rao as amici curiae in the matter, according to Bar and Bench.

In an affidavit filed on January 12, the Centre had said that criminalisation of marital rape “could open floodgates of false cases being made with ulterior motives”. In another affidavit filed on February 3, the Centre had sought to defer the hearings, saying that it needed time to consult with all the stakeholders to be able to help the court with the case.

The government had also contended that the questions involved in the case have “far-reaching socio-legal implications” and sought to defer the matter by citing pending consultative process. It had said that the matter needed a comprehensive approach rather than just a strictly legal view.

In an affidavit filed in the case in 2017, the government had opposed the criminalisation of marital rape, saying that it would destabilise the institution of marriage.

In response to the Centre’s affidavits, Advocate Karuna Nundy, who represented two petitioners in the case, had said that the exception pertaining to marital rape was unconstitutional as it gave primacy to the institution of marriage over the individuals in the marriage.

On Centre’s contention about considering the social problems prevalent in the Indian society, she had said: “Basically [the Centre is] saying that if you’re a poor or illiterate woman then marital rape shouldn’t be criminalised. This is the Union of India, this is the government and this is why we are before the court.”

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to stay a Karnataka High Court order that allowed the trial of a man for allegedly raping his wife.