The Chhattisgarh High Court freed a 37-year-old man of criminal charges ruling that forced sex between married couples would not be considered rape even if it is against the wishes of the wife.

The Court ruled that “sexual intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape,” during the hearing of this case.

“In this case, the complainant is legally wedded wife of applicant therefore, sexual intercourse or any sexual act with her by the husband would not constitute an offence of rape, even if it was by force or against her wish. Therefore, charge under Section 376 (rape) framed against the applicant husband is erroneous and illegal,” the High Court said in its order.

The accused, however, has been booked under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, for unnatural sex.

Marital rape in India is not a crime and forced sexual intercourse is considered a criminal activity only if the wife is under 18 years of age.

The judgement passed by the court has drawn reactions from all over the country, both men and women, condemning Chhattisgarh High Court’s order. Actor Taapsee Pannu, Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra and Saayoni Ghosh, among others took to twitter to vent out their frustration.

“Sexual intercourse by husband not rape, even if by force’: Chhattisgarh HC,” tweeted Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra. “Neanderthals in India’s judiciary need to wake up. Hope this is appealed in SC asap,” she added.

“Ignorant, illiterate, insensitive. You got it all wrong #ChhattisgarhHC. Ashamed as a law abiding citizen who has faith in the judiciary,” tweeted Actor and Trinamool Congress leader Saayoni Ghosh.

“Sexual Intercourse Or Any Sexual Act By Husband With Legally Wedded Wife Not Rape Even If It Was By Force Or Against Her Wish: Chhattisgarh HC! Ridiculous! Marriage is a licence to rape wife?!” wrote a Public Interest Lawyer and Activist, Prashant Bhushan, on the social media platform.

Also Read: If Utsav Kadam is a ‘future asset’, who am I? Asks IIT-Guwahati rape victim



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