Lord Hale’s Ghost Returns

The concept of dignity forms the very foundation to the Constitution and the rights enshrined in it [Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225].


Statutes are considered to be ‘always speaking’ [Dharni Sugars and Chemicals Ltd. v. Union of India, (2019) 5 SCC 480]. Court’s power to purposively interpret a statutory text does not imply, a Judge can substitute legislative intent with their own individual notions. But, law should be interpreted in terms of changing needs of times and circumstances [Badshah v. Urmila Badshah Godse,  (2014) 1 SCC 188].


The institution of marriage does not influence the answer to the question of whether a woman has consented to sexual relations.

Since challenge to Exception 2 to Section 375, IPC is pending consideration, we would leave constitutional validity of Exception 2 to Section 375, IPC to be decided.  

Notwithstanding same, meaning of ‘sexual assault’ or ‘rape’ in Rule 3B(a) of The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003 includes a husband’s act of sexual assault or rape committed on his wife. In order to avail benefit of Rule 3B(a), women need not necessarily seek recourse to formal legal proceedings to prove factum of “sexual assault, rape or incest”.

Hon’ble Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, X v. Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, [Civil Appeal No 5802 of 2022].