New Delhi: Members of a Parliamentary panel examining a bill which seeks to amend laws on crime against women on Monday termed the issue of marital rape as a "grey area" and decided to examine it further before coming out with recommendations by the end of this month.
The Standing Committee on Home met here to examine the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 and discussed, among other issues, the clause relating to marital rape.
Notwithstanding an ordinance on crime against women, the committee has decided to go ahead with considering the bill which has similar provisions. The government has provided the panel with the Criminal Law (amendment) Ordinance and recommendations of the Verma committee to enable it bring out recommendations based on all available documents.
In the meeting, in which Home Secretary RK Singh and senior Law Ministry officials were also present, some members questioned the government`s decision not to accept the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee on martial rape.
The bill being considered by the panel also does not include marital rape under the definition of rape.
Quoting women rights activists, some members said exclusion of marital rape denies a woman`s autonomy over her own body. They also said if marital rape is not recognised in law, then women do not have the right to approach the police.
Some other members said the issue was a "grey area" and a final decision should be taken after further discussions as the law could be "misused".
The Verma Committee had recommended deletion of Section 376A (intercourse by a man with his wife during separation) under which currently maximum punishment is two years. Implied in that was the view that marital rape should also be brought under the definition of rape.
However, the government has decided to retain it but enhanced the punishment for the crime -- from two years to maximum seven years of imprisonment.
Responding to another criticism that armed forces personnel often take the shield of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 after committing crime against women, Home Ministry officials clarified that no sanction would be required if armed forces personnel are accused of a crime against a woman.