Plea challenges provisions on restitution of conjugal rights.
New Delhi: A woman, who had challenged the provisions related to restitution of conjugal rights on the grounds that she has a right to “sexually autonomy” and to be “left alone”, has failed to get any relief from the Supreme Court.
The woman, an engineering graduate working in a multinational IT major, had moved the top court challenging the constitutional validity of provision of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, after her estranged husband had filed a suit for restitution of conjugal rights.
The plea claimed that “coercive act” of state compelling sexual co-habitation infringes a woman’s fundamental right to privacy, dignity, mental and physical health, personal liberty and right to equality under the Constitution.
A bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and M.M. Shantanagoudar refused to entertain her plea saying the matter was purely “pre-mature” at this juncture as at this stage, only a petition for restitution of conjugal rights was filed by her husband.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and advocate Fauzia Shakil, appearing for the woman, referred to the apex court’s historic judgement in the Right to Privacy matter and said that a woman has the right to sexual autonomy and to be left alone.
The petitioner had claimed that provisions related to restitution of conjugal rights violated the freedom of sexual expression under the Constitution.
“The petitioner’s main grievance is that the process of law cannot compel or induce a woman to surrender her right of sexual and decisional autonomy, which is part of her fundamental right under Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty),” the plea said.
The woman also said that compelling her to go back to her husband for restitution of conjugal rights against her wishes would tantamount to marital rape.
In her plea, she claimed that her marriage was solemnised in November 2014 but soon thereafter, her husband started to harass her mentally and physically.
The woman said that she had left her matrimonial home and registered a criminal case against her husband and in-laws.
She claimed that in 2017, her husband had filed a suit for restitution of conjugal rights before a family court and the matter was pending.