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Marital rape can be ground for divorce: Kerala HC | India News – Times of India

KOCHI: Marital rape can be accepted as a ground to grant divorce by recognising it as a form of cruelty, the Kerala high court has held. The Supreme Court had, in 2019, turned down a plea to accept marital rape as a ground for divorce. The high court gave its ruling while hearing an appeal filed by a husband against a divorce granted by a family court in 2014.

“Treating wife’s body as something owing to husband and committing sexual act against her will is nothing but marital rape. Right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity encompass bodily integrity; any disrespect or violation of bodily integrity is a violation of individual autonomy…,” the high court said.

Though such conduct cannot be penalised, it falls in the frame of physical and mental cruelty,” said a division bench of Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath, while referring to the allegation of unnatural sex against the husband.

The case involves a doctor who married the daughter of a realtor in February 1995. A car, a flat and 501 sovereigns of gold were gifted but the husband suffered heavy losses in real-estate business. The father-in-law had also given Rs 77 lakh to the man to pay off debts and it was also alleged that he misappropriated the gold. The woman sought a divorce in 2009. The HC also said a uniform, secular law on marriage and divorce that makes it easier for a spouse to exercise his/her free will to separate is the need of the hour.

The HC said the present legislation on divorce curtails an individual’s free will to separate by limiting it through defined grounds, such as cruelty, adultery, desertion, etc. “A spouse in a marriage has a choice, a choice not to suffer, which is fundamental to the autonomy guaranteed under natural law and the Constitution. Law cannot compel a spouse to suffer against his/her wish by denial of divorce,” it said.

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