The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition urging it to direct the Centre to declare marital rape a ground for divorce, reported Bar and Bench. The division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said the court cannot direct framing of laws as it was the the legislature’s domain.

Advocate Anuja Kapur had filed the public interest litigation plea, requesting the court to order the Centre to frame guidelines for registration of first information reports related to cases of marital rape. She also sought appropriate punishment and penalty for marital rape. At present, marital rape is not a ground for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, and the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

“Eighteen out of every 100 men across India believe that a husband has the right to get angry and reprimand his wife if she refuses to have sexual intercourse with her husband,” the plea read, according to Bar and Bench. “At the state level, 43% men in Andhra Pradesh, 42.6% in Telangana, 29.5% in Mizoram, 21.75 in J&K, 20.3% in West Bengal and 19.9% in Karnataka felt the same way.”

Kapur pointed out that during the National Family Health Survey, nine out of every 100 men across the country said a husband was justified in beating his wife if she refused sex. According to the plea, five out of every 100 women reported that their husbands had physically forced them to have sexual intercourse.

Kapur said marital rape was no less an offence than rape, murder and culpable homicide. “It denigrates the honour and dignity of a human being, and reduces her to a chattel to be utilised for one’s self convenience and comfort,” she added. “It reduces a woman to a corpse, living under the constant fear of hurt or injury.”

The petitioner argued that first information reports were not registered by the police since marital rape was neither a crime nor a context in cases of sexual assault and abuse. “...Rather, it is being compromised [the complaint] by the police authorities to maintain the sanity of the marriage between the victim and the husband,” PTI quoted Kapur as saying.