Motive of international health NGOs active in India

 

RSS affiliate questions motive of international health NGOs active in India

 

RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) has called for a review of the working of international NGOs that are active in Indian health sector for conflict of interest and commercial interests. The organisation wanted all state governments and central government to monitor such activities in their respective jurisdictions.

In a press release issued in Delhi on Friday, SHM alleged that “many of these NGOs, such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Global Health Strategies (GHS) and Programme for Appropriate Technology for Health (PATH) are already facing the allegations of conflict of interests and promoting the interests of certain pharmaceutical companies manufacturing ‘contentious’ vaccines”.

According to SJM, the department of financial services is investigating the appointment of the BMGF’s national head on the board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), a regulator that monitors foreign funds. It also alleged that questions are raised about the influence of the pharma giants on the National Immunisation Program, especially use of vaccines such as HPV.

“The Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health in 2013 observed serious lapses on part of PATH in taking informed consent of parents, the process of taking regulatory clearances as well as conflict of interest of the NGO with certain quarters of the Government. The Committee had also recommended strict action against the NGO. But nine years hence, far from getting penalised, these individuals continue to work freely with the Government of India influencing our policies and programs as they did a decade ago,” says Ashwani Mahajan, All India Co-convenor, SJM.

Stating that SJM has regularly been alerting the central government agencies of the “ill-designs” of such organisations, it said that “there are reports that these organisations, through direct and indirect representatives, consultants and public policy professionals are pushing their agendas in various states, to influence the health policy making”.

SJM also noted that these NGOs, along with their subsidiaries and affiliates are actively “lobbying with the state governments to meet their end goal, that too circumventing the laws of the land”. “It will be appropriate, if the state, as well as, central agencies issue advisories and immediately stop interacting with them. There is a strong case for reviewing their functioning and programmes these outfits run”, Mahajan states.

According to SJM, in the last few years, such outfits have spread their wings in states, such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. “The erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh signed MOU with BMGF, which operates through foreign organisations like University of Manitoba, Clinton Foundation etc in the state. The MOU is up for renewal. We demand from the Yogi Adityanath government to come up with a whitepaper on the progress of the MoU”, they state. SJM also wants governments to give Indian NGOs preference over foreign ones by giving the former due weightage in selection process.

Wage war on corrupt NGOs!

The idea behind NGOs has lost sheen over the years; most have become synonymous with corruption. There is a need to restore their credibility

Brajesh Thakur and Girija Tripathi are rapacious vultures. Disgraced managers of two shelter homes for girls in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria respectively, they represent a rapidly degenerating section of Indians who could go to any length to earn fortune. Their greed knows no limits and their souls are sold to corruption. They do not hesitate to choose any medium to satiate their greed, even if it means an otherwise sacrosanct medium like non-governmental organisations (NGO).

NGOs have existed in India in varied forms for many decades. Even though the term NGO found its place in common usage through a United Nations Charter at the end of World War II, the idea of voluntarism has been centuries old. Historians have noted existence of humanitarian associations along Chinese rivers since 13th century. They flourished in the 19th Century and there are records of how independent humane groups such as Royal Jennerian Society came up in 1803 to ensure that “Smallpox may be speedily exterminated… ultimately from the whole earth,” through newly-discovered methods of vaccination. Swiss philanthropist Henri Dunant found Red Cross in 1863 to provide assistance to the wounded in conflicts.

In India also, charity work is old and large number of big corporates and individual philanthropists have contributed to numbers of social and humanitarian causes. For instance, Sir Ratan Tata, who died at 48 in 1918, had written in his will, “If I have no children, I give the rest of the residue of my property … for the advancement of education, learning and industry in all its branches including education in economy, sanitary science and art or for other works of public utility…” Much before him, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, who established Empress Mill in 1874, had set very high standards of worker benefits and welfare with facilities such as sanitary hutments and filtered water for them. Such humanitarian concern for workers at that time was unheard of, even in the West. The legacy continues in form of Tata Trusts, which support over 450 partners with its work spread over 17 States and 170 districts across the country.

The relevance of charity or social work by non-state actors was never lost even in the 21st Century though its forms and connotations changed. Burton Weisbrod in ‘The Nonprofit Economy’ had postulated that NGOs are a result of Government failure and market failure. According to both theories, individuals or group of people form self-help or social policy associations when they feel that either the Government or the profit-making market, or both, cannot adequately address their concerns, such as poverty, poor education, environmental degradation, affordable housing, and a host of other issues. In India, given her vastness and diversity and multitude of social challenges, the Governments have traditionally supported NGOs through funding, anticipating that it serves the unserved.

However, sooner than the Government would have anticipated, the system developed cancer and NGOs soon became synonymous with corruption. The advent of globalisation and its associated challenges including widening disparities between the rich and poor magnified the role of the voluntary sector, which flourished in this backdrop. And to be fair to the sector, lot of good work did happen such as the one supported by the Tata Trusts.

However, in predominantly agrarian societies with poor or no records of industries such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, idea of NGOs lost its sheen and became synonymous with a short-cut to earn quick money for millions of jobless youth and elderly people. The more enterprising among them lured the bureaucracy and political system and shared the booty. For the more privileged in the society, NGOs became a fashion statement besides opening a world of opportunities. Spouses and siblings of bureaucrats and politicians ran NGOs of all hues. Thanks to globalisation, liberalisation and rise of the mainstream media’s obsession with magnifying disparities, social work soon turned into a soft enterprise for both the crooked and the privileged. The social spirit gave way to a new kind of social greed. The poor became guinea pigs and the crooked and the privileged brutally exploited the systemic flaws. Thakur and Tripathi are zenith of such degeneration.

The systemic flaws ensured that the Government either remained oblivious or looked the other way. It is only when obvious distortions like these from Muzaffarpur and Deoria come to the fore that Governments get into a knee-jerk crisis management mode, ordering enquiries and audits, which should have happened religiously. Much to its horror, the Central Bureau of Investigation in an affidavit to the Supreme Court had submitted that in 2015 there were a total of 31 lakh NGOs in India, which is more than double the number of schools, and 250 times the number of Government hospitals. It is anyone’s guess, had all these NGOs genuinely worked, India would have been a far more humane society than it is today. Sadly, we allowed this monster to grow disproportionately. One hopes, this is killed soon to contain our society from slipping into further depravity.

(The writer is a strategic communications professional)

NGOs to the rescue – Life after Trafficking!

Survivors of trafficking at a meeting with a social worker from the NGO, Goranbose Gram Bikash Kendra, in Canning village in South 24 Parganas district.

Serina (23) was rescued from a brothel in Kalyan, a Mumbai suburb, on December 14, 2016. She was put on a train on February 2, 2017. The journey to her home State, West Bengal, lasted two days. She had to spend some more days at a shelter in Madhyamgram town in North 24 Parganas before being reunited with her family — after one year — in South 24 Parganas district on February 18.

Like many women who had been trafficked into sex work and subsequently rescued, Serina doesn’t like anyone visiting her at her home, where she lives with her three unmarried sisters, all younger than her. She prefers to travel 20 km so that she can meet us at the office of an NGO in the Gokulpara area of Canning subdivision.

The NGO, Goranbose Gram Bikash Kendra (GGBK), works for the welfare of victims of trafficking. Serina, at five feet five inches, is taller than other survivors, but she looks frail. Her medical papers mention her weight as 35 kg. She complains to a GGBK worker that she has been steadily losing weight. A test done shortly after her rescue had diagnosed her as HIV positive.

A social worker of the Swayangsiddha initiative tells students in Diamond Harbour not to respond to calls or messages from unknown numbers.

Serina has to regularly make the nearly 70 km journey from her village to the Alipore Court in Kolkata to find out the status of her petition seeking compensation under the West Bengal Victim Compensation Scheme for trafficking survivors. “I had applied for compensation in July 2017,” she says. “My medical expenses are rising every month. But all I am getting are empty assurances.” Serina has to spend ₹3,000-4,000 every month on tests and medication.

Social boycott

Like Serina, 28-year-old Meher-un Nisa also avoids meeting outsiders at her home. “My return from Pune in early 2017 led to a social boycott of our family. Even buying daily groceries had become a challenge. I did not step out from home for months,” says Meher-un Nisa, whose village is also in Canning. After her rescue, it took her almost a year to muster the courage to visit a police station and lodge a complaint against the man who had trafficked her.

That man was her husband. Having tricked her into marrying him, he took her to Pune on the pretext of getting her a job, and sold her to a brothel. These days she travels regularly to Kolkata to arrange the documents needed to apply for victim compensation.

Young girls from Godkhali village in Canning, where cases of trafficking have come to fore.

Following a 2010 directive from the Supreme Court that compensation should be paid to victims of sexual assault, acid attacks and trafficking, many States have set up victim compensation funds. According to the West Bengal Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017, ₹1 lakh is the amount to be paid to victims of human trafficking as compensation.

Serina and Meher-un Nisa are among the thousands of unsuspecting young girls and women who had left their homes after being promised a better future by traffickers posing as well-wishers. Lured by new boyfriends, strangers, and sometimes even family members, these girls are sold to brothels across the country. In recent times, West Bengal has registered an astonishingly high number of trafficking cases.

The latest figures of the National Crime Records Bureau, released in 2017, show that of the 8,132 cases of human trafficking recorded in the country (January to December 2016), 3,579 cases (around 44%) were from West Bengal. Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based NGO, cites a Home Ministry statement in the Lok Sabha, according to which charge sheets had been filed in 1,186 cases of the 3,579 cases reported from West Bengal. “This means that in one-third of the cases, the girls have been rescued and the perpetrators arrested,” he says. From January 2017 to July 2018, Shakti Vahini and the West Bengal police have together rescued 101 girls and women from different parts of north India. Nearly one-third of the girls rescued (34) were from South 24 Parganas district.

Two subdivisions in South 24 Parganas, Diamond Harbour and Canning, have emerged as hubs of trafficking. Over the past few years, they have seen the return of several rescued girls. Life for these young women, who are mostly in their twenties, is tough. They have escaped a nightmarish past but the future is not bright either. Not only do they have to come to terms with the psychological trauma, they also have to continuously battle social stigma. Under these circumstances, securing even a basic livelihood proves a daunting task.

The houses of the survivors and of the girls who have gone missing tell a story in themselves. Located in remote areas of the Canning subdivision, these mostly one-room houses have thatched roofs and almost no furniture. The families have a solitary earning member and multiple dependents, including several children. Most have little or no land. The men travel to Kolkata looking for odd jobs as potters, tailors or masons. A survivor in Uttar Daharani village, whose father works as a mason in Kolkata, said that the cyclone Aila of 2009 changed the nature of the land in the region. The influx of sea water had rendered the area unfit for cultivation.

Another survivor from Budhokhali village, under the Itkhola panchayat in Canning, makes a living making batik prints for saris. When she returned home three years ago after being rescued, her husband refused to take her back. She now lives with her parents.

At Bollartop village, which falls under Basanti police station, a father who works as a mechanic for engine-powered boats speaks of a habeas corpus plea he had filed in the Calcutta High Court in 2017. His daughter, who went missing two years ago, had contacted the family saying that she had been sold to a brothel somewhere and was unable to escape. The father’s hopes rest on the fact that another girl from his village who had also gone missing was rescued in 2017. These families do not have the economic means to wage a legal battle to get their daughters back.

Question of compensation

Of late, the judiciary has begun taking an active interest in the issue. On July 5, 2018, a Division Bench of Justices Ravi Krishan Kapur and Joymalya Bagchi of the Calcutta High Court observed that “the menace of trafficking of women and minors has assumed alarming proportions.” A directive by the Bench that is likely to have a positive impact is that there should be a provision for interim compensation for the survivors, which is to be given to them soon after they record their statements.

Enthused by the Calcutta High Court orders as well as the provisions in the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, recently passed by the Lok Sabha, Kant is hopeful that the rehabilitation of survivors will soon become a legal right. He says that the responsibility for awarding compensation lies with the SLSA.

“Legal aid is not charity, it is the constitutional right of a citizen,” says the pen stand in the office of Ajay Kumar Gupta, the SLSA member secretary, located in the heart of Kolkata. According to Gupta, the number of cases where compensation has been awarded to trafficking survivors has not been made available in the public domain. A Right to Information (RTI) application may be the only route to access this information, he says. “Whenever we have funds, we disburse it among the people,” he says.

Pompi Banerjee, a psychiatrist working with Utthan, a trafficking survivors’ collective that’s active in the North and South 24 Parganas districts, says that she is aware of only three trafficking survivors receiving compensation in the past two years, of which only one has received the money in her account.

South 24 Parganas is one of the most densely populated districts in West Bengal. The last Census put the population density per sq km at 819. Canning and Diamond Harbour are two of the five subdivisions of the districts with high migration and maximum instances of trafficking and missing children.

The missing ones

Responses to several RTI queries by Kolkata-based activist Sabir Ahamed show that South 24 Parganas had the highest number of missing children in the State. In 2012, 2,836 went missing, of which 2,191 were girls. Of these, 1,714 were aged between 14 and 18 years. Ahamed says that while 1,007 of the missing children were traced, the whereabouts of the rest remain unknown.

For Amina Khatun Laskar, who runs Birangana Seva Samity, a small, Canning-based NGO that works for the welfare of trafficking survivors, instances of women and girls going missing is almost a daily phenomenon. “Earlier, it was teenagers and young unmarried girls who were trafficked. Now we are getting cases of even married woman going missing,” says Laskar.

While Laskar is sharing case studies of married women who have gone missing, a burqa-clad woman walks into the room, clutching a passport size photograph and an Aadhaar card. Aliyah Sheikh has not heard from her daughter, Rokeya, since July 14, 2018. Rokeya got married two years ago. “Your daughter was born in 2001,” says Laskar, looking at the Aadhaar card. “Why did you marry her off so young?”

“She was good-looking, so we fixed her marriage with my sister’s son. Her family is a little better off than us,” explains Sheikh. “My husband is paralysed. I earn ₹1,500 a month working as a cook in a local school.” She adds that her son-in-law had told her that her daughter ran away with an autorickshaw driver. Laskar jots down the details but Sheikh has no name for the driver. “She is a minor and the police will have to take the case,” says Laskar, trying to comfort Sheikh.

At the Canning Police Station, on one of the desks lies a charge sheet filed on June 15, 2017 against Asha Das alias Jyotsna Das. Samayun Bashar, the sub-inspector who handles cases of trafficking, takes the chair behind the desk and flips through the charge sheet.

“In 2017, the Canning police station rescued 22 girls. We are yet to count the numbers for 2018 but it could be eight or ten,” says Bashar, recounting the several journeys he had made in 2017 to rescue girls from Gujarat, Pune and Delhi. “Three in Gujarat, three in Pune, one in Delhi,” he counts on his fingers. The most challenging rescue was in Delhi, of a three-year-old who had been sold along with her mother.

Tracking them down

The 25-year-old mother of twin daughters belonged to Sundhipukria area of Canning. She was taken to Delhi, along with one of her daughters, by a woman who had befriended her and promised to get her a job. But the mother ended up in a flat from where a prostitution racket was being run. One afternoon in January 2017, she escaped from the flat but could not take her daughter with her. As he speaks, Bashar is busy making notes on a sheet of paper. “I am travelling to Kolkata tomorrow, the accused (Asha Das) has applied for bail at the Calcutta High Court. I have to brief the public prosecutor about the case so that she does not get bail,” Bashar says.

The rescue of the three-year-old was like looking for a needle in a haystack as there were no telephone numbers to track down, no address and no clues, Bashar says. “For three days we went around Delhi, but the mother could not identify the area from where she had escaped. And when we finally managed to locate the lane, we could not identify the building.” Eventually, with the help of the Delhi Police, they broke into a flat and found three babies of the same age. The babies’ heads had been shaved and measures had been taken to make all of them look alike. Even the mother found it difficult to identify her own baby. “When the mother turned away, the baby started crying and calling out to her in Bengali,” recalls Bashar. “It was as if the child had rescued herself.”

In the adjoining subdivision of Diamond Harbour, Prabir Kumar Bal is the officer-in-charge of the Special Operations Group, Sunderbans Police District. He had rescued six girls from Agra in 2017. Five of them were from South 24 Parganas. Bal had gone looking for a girl from the Mathurapur area of the district, and in the course of his investigation, ended up busting a major trafficking racket involving locals from Diamond Harbour and their handlers in Delhi and Agra.

His eyes light up when asked about the rescue of 18-year-old Sushmita Mondal, an operation that had involved four to five visits to Delhi, Ghaziabad and Agra. “You can make a film on it,” he says, recalling how the police had just one clue to work with — a telephone number Mondal had called several times before she went missing.

“This number kept travelling to Kolkata, Delhi, and back to Diamond Harbour. That was our only clue. Interestingly, the SIM was registered in the name of a woman who worked in Kolkata,” Bal says. The rescue took weeks of planning, help from the Agra Police, and cops posing as customers in order to gain entry into the brothel that held Mondal.

“We went without food for 36 hours. I had assured Bal that if the girl he was looking for was in north India, we would find her,” says Rishi Kant. The activist, who has rescued hundreds of girls, says that little-known police officers travel all around the country to bring these girls back home.

Tathagata Basu, SP of the Sunderbans Police District, says that 13 girls, all residents of the Sunderbans and its adjoining areas, were rescued in 2017, and eight in 2018. He is convinced that trafficking is a well-organised crime, with operators based in West Bengal and other States. He says that traffickers have found a new modus operandi to home in on their targets. They lurk around mobile recharge shops where these girls, mostly schoolgoing, go to get their cell phones recharged, and copy their numbers from the register.

It starts with missed calls, WhatsApp messages, and even the gifting of new mobile phones. A few weeks later, once the girl’s confidence has been won, the trafficker will tell her that he has got a job in Delhi and his parents are likely to get him married. “It is such an elaborate and carefully thought-out plan that the girl is bound to fall into the trap,” Basu says. Raising awareness is the key, he says, as this was the same plot that Farak Ali Gayen had used to trap Mondal.

The West Bengal police has been trying to do just that through the Swayangsiddha initiative, under which police officers regularly visit schools and colleges and urge girls not to respond to missed calls from unknown numbers. Sometimes survivors like Serina and Meher-un-Nisa also visit these awareness camps and speak to the girls.

A different journey

Meher-un-Nisa has come a long way since her return from Pune. Last month, she went on another journey, this time of a different kind. Along with another survivor, she flew to Delhi, on July 18, to participate in a consultation on the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill. The next day, in the presence of three MPs — Shatrughan Sinha, Manoj Tiwari and Kothapalli Geetha — she picked up the microphone and explained how women like her fall into the trap of traffickers. “First they win your trust by giving money or provisions for your family,” she told the gathering. “They target poor girls who belong to families that can barely make their ends meet.”

Later in the evening, she told one of the participants of the seminar that the man who had trafficked her still remains at large. An inter-State agency to investigate such cases, as proposed in the Bill, could apprehend those operating in different States, she said. Little did she know that her wish was to come true almost a week later. On July 26, the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, amidst concerns by the Opposition. For Meher-un-Nisa, Serina and others like them, the Bill, yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, offers a ray of hope.

NGOs play major role to bring down HIV Aids cases – UN Report.

Latest UN Report Shows Major Drop In Rate Of HIV Infections In India

 

India saw a major reduction in the number of new HIV infections, AIDS-related deaths and people living with HIV from 2010 to 2017 on the back of sustained and focused efforts, according to a UN report which warned that the epidemic was growing in Pakistan.

The Joint UN Agency on AIDS (UNAIDS) report titled ‘Miles to go – closing gaps, breaking barriers, righting injustices’ said Asia and the Pacific regions have made strong inroads with its HIV response.

Sustained and focused efforts to reach key populations have led to major reductions in HIV infections in Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam between 2010 and 2017.

The report, however, warned that the global new HIV infections were not declining fast enough. It also noted that the epidemics were expanding in Pakistan and the Philippines.

In India, new HIV infections dropped from 120,000 in 2010 to 88,000 in 2017, AIDS-related deaths from 160,000 to 69,000 and people living with HIV from 2,300,000 to 2,100,000 in the same time period, the report said.

India has an approved social protection strategy, policy or framework that is being implemented, it said.

Successive surveys in Cambodia, India, Thailand and Vietnam also indicate that attitudes towards people living with HIV have improved creating safer working conditions for sex workers and engaging them closely in the design and implementation of programmes make a huge difference, it said.

The report underscored the public health benefits of de-criminalising sex work.

It found that countries that had de-criminalised at least some aspects of sex work have fewer sex workers living with HIV than countries that criminalise all aspects of sex work.

Modelling based on data from Canada, India and Kenya indicates that the de-criminalisation of sex work could avert 33-46 per cent of HIV infections over the course of a decade.

The report cited the example of Karnataka, where advocacy work with senior police officials, sensitisation workshops and the inclusion of HIV and human rights topics in pre-service curricula led to significant decreases in the arrest of female sex workers, especially during police raids.

Before the interventions, half (50 per cent) of the 4,110 surveyed female sex workers said they had been arrested or detained at some point during police raids, that proportion shrank to 20 per cent after the interventions, the report said.

Referring to the initiative sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce the spread of HIV in India, the report said the Avahan programme in Karnataka and other States remained a “sterling example” of the impact of combining condom programming with community empowerment and structural improvements that tackle stigma, violence and unsafe working environments.

UNAIDS, however, issued a stark wake-up call for nations, warning that the global response to HIV is at a precarious point.

At the halfway point to the 2020 targets, the report warned that the pace of progress was not matching global ambition.

“We are sounding the alarm”, said Mr Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

“Entire regions are falling behind, the huge gains we made for children are not being sustained, women are still most affected, resources are still not matching political commitments and key populations continue to be ignored. All these elements are halting progress and urgently need to be addressed head-on,” Mr Sidibe said.

Global new HIV infections have declined by just 18 per cent in the past seven years, from 2.2 million in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2017, the report noted.

Although this is nearly half the number of new infections compared to the peak in 1996 (3.4 million), the decline is not quick enough to reach the target of fewer than 500,000 by 2020.

In 2017, an estimated 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV and 21.7 million people were accessing treatment, it said.

The report also shows that key populations are not being considered enough in HIV programming.

Key populations and their sexual partners account for 47 per cent of the new HIV infections worldwide and 97 per cent of new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia, where one third of new HIV infections are among people who inject drugs.

“The right to health for all is non-negotiable,” said Mr Sidibe.

“Sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, prisoners, migrants, refugees and transgender people are more affected by HIV but are still being left out from HIV programmes. More investments are needed in reaching these key populations,” Mr Sidibe added.

Men’s NGO plea on marital rape!

 

An NGO’s plea in the seeking to make marital an offence was today opposed by another NGO, run by a group of men, which said that married women have been given adequate protection under the law against sexual by their husbands.

claimed that exception in Section 375 of the IPC, which says intercourse or a sexual act by a man with his is not rape, is “not unconstitutional” and setting it aside will create more injustice.

It was opposing the petitions filed by and the All Democratic Women’s Association, which have challenged the constitutionality of Section 375 (which defines rape) of the IPC on the ground that it discriminated against married women being sexually assaulted by their husbands.

A bench of Acting and Justice C posed various questions to the trust’s representatives, who were made intervenors in the matter, and asked whether their stand was that a husband has a right to perpetrate sexual offence on his and could he force sex on his spouse?

To this, NGO Men Welfare Trust’s representatives and replied in the negative and said there were existing provisions, including domestic law, harassment to married woman, unnatural sex, which provide adequate protection to a against sexual committed by the husband.

However, no such protection is given to husbands as laws in are gender specific, unlike in most parts of the world, they argued.

When said that by a husband and a third person cannot be put on a same pedestal, the bench shot back, saying “a is a Is it that if you are married, it is okay but if you are not, then it’s a If an uncle or grandfather sexually assaults a woman or a girl, it is covered under the offence of


The arguments remained inconclusive and will continue on April 16, the next date of hearing.

Earlier, Kolkata-based NGO Hridaya had also opposed the plea to make marital an offence, saying consent for physical relations is for all time when a person enters the institution of

The high court had earlier agreed to examine the issue raised in PILs by Karuna Nundy, who represented and the All Democratic Women’s Association, and a man and a woman, who have sought striking down the exception in the Indian that does not consider sexual intercourse with a wife, not less than 15 years of age, as

The petitions have also sought setting aside of the exception in the law that protects husbands, saying that it violates the right to equality, freedom and to live life with dignity provided under the Constitution.

The had said that quashing the protection husbands enjoy against prosecution for marital would lead to “creation of an offence”, which is a legislative job and courts cannot create or legislate an offence, which would be the inevitable outcome of striking down of the exception in the IPC.

The Centre has opposed the main petitions saying marital cannot be made a criminal offence as it could become a phenomenon which may destabilise the institution of and an easy tool for harassing the husbands.