Delhi Police arrested a 34-year-old man for allegedly having “unlawful sexual intercourse” with his wife whom he had separated from. Police said he committed the crime by holding her on knifepoint at a house in south Delhi’s Panchsheel Park on Sunday.
The 29-year-old victim said the accused had called her to the house on Sunday over the pretext of giving her money for their daughter. However, when she reached the house, where the couple used to live before their separation, she said the accused asked her to frame one of his acquaintances in a false rape case. When she refused, he sexually assaulted her, police officials said.
“The woman said that the accused appeared drunk when he arrived at the house on Sunday. He asked her to frame one of his acquaintances and blackmail him for money. When she refused, he allegedly assaulted her and then established physical relations with her despite her refusal by holding her at knifepoint,” said a police officer.
After the sexual and physical assault, the victim said, she managed to snatch her phone from the accused and call the police control room.
Booked under Section 376B
Deputy commissioner of police (south) Romil Baaniya said a case has been registered at the Malviya Nagar police station under sections 376B (sexual intercourse with separated wife without consent) and 323 (assault) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 376B of the IPC criminalises sexual intercourse with one’s separated wife without her consent. Legal experts and senior police officials said it is “extremely rare” that cases are registered under this provision.
Offences under section 376B are punishable by two-to-seven years of imprisonment.
“The woman’s statement was recorded before a magistrate and on Tuesday we arrested the accused,” said Baaniya.
“These cases are extremely rare. It is a recent and a very sensitive amendment in the law and we, as a law enforcement agency, try to act on such complaints in true letter and spirit of the law,” said Delhi Police chief spokesperson Dependra Pathak.
Police said the accused had been unemployed after suffering losses a string of failed businesses. He had been accused by another woman of molesting her last month, officials said.
The victim said the couple had been living apart for a year. She had filed a divorce petition in a Mumbai court.
Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nundy and city-based lawyer Chander Suman, who have dealt with instances of sexual crimes against women, said that cases under section 376B were rarely heard of.
“The law is recent so there is little awareness about it. Most people think that all marital rape is not punishable despite this provision giving limited recourse for separated women. The punishment is much lighter though, compared to rape with a live-in partner or a divorced wife. We have challenged these marital rape exemptions in the Delhi High Court,” said Nundy
“The change was introduced in the law on the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee formed after the December 16 gang rape-cum-murder case. The offence unlike other rape laws is bailable,” said Suman.