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Rape and sexual crimes law in India

  • IASbaba
  • December 12, 2019
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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SOCIETY

TOPIC: General Studies 1:

  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Rape and sexual crimes law in India

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th December 2019

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th December 2019

SRC: Human Rights watch

Context:

  • There has been an outcry for justice for the victims after the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad and the burning of a rape survivor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.

History of Rape law:

  • First introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860. 
  • The first Law Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Macaulay decided to put the criminal law of the land in two separate codes. (Indian Penal Code & Code of Criminal Procedure )

Indian Penal Code IPC :

  • Section 375 of the IPC made punishable the act of sex by a man with a woman if it was done against her will or without her consent.
  • Her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt is considered to be Rape 
  • Sex with or without her consent, when she is under 18 years is considered rape. 
  • Exception : sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape. 
  • Section 376 provided for seven years of jail term to life imprisonment

Mathura custodial rape case 1972

  • In 1972 a young Adivasi girl named Mathura was allegedly raped by policemen in the Desai Gunj Police Station in Maharashtra. 
  • In the trial that ensued, the sessions court came to the conclusion that she had sexual intercourse while at the police station but rape had not been proved and that she was habituated to intercourse.
  • The sessions court acquitted both the policemen, the High Court reversed the order of acquittal. 
  • When the case reached the Supreme Court, it overturned the High Court verdict saying that “the intercourse in question is not proved to amount rape”.
  • SC 1978 verdict, said no marks of injury were found on the girl after the incident and “their absence goes a long way to indicate that the alleged intercourse was a peaceful affair”.

Controversy and Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 1983

  • Controversial SC 1978 verdict sparked widescale protests across the country seeking a change in existing rape laws. This led  to Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983. 
  • Section 114A in the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 was inserted which presumed that there is absence of consent in certain prosecutions of rape if the victim says so. This applied to custodial rape cases.
  • Section 228A was added which makes it punishable to disclose the identity of the victim in Rape case

Law Commission:

  • Law Commission in its 172th report recommended widening the scope of rape law to make it gender neutral.
  • While the rape law in India even today remains gender specific, as the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’, the 172nd report led to the amendments in the Indian Evidence Act in 2002.

Nirbhaya case in Delhi 2012 &Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013 

  • Parliament made the amendments on the recommendation of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, which was constituted to re-look the criminal laws in the country and recommend changes.
  • The 2013 Act, increased jail terms in most sexual assault cases and also provided for the death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.
  • It also created new offences, such as use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.
  • Unwelcome physical contact, words or gestures, demand or request for sexual favours, showing pornography against the will of a woman or making sexual remarks stalking was made punishable acid attack was increased to 10 years of imprisonment.

Offences against minors (Kathua Rape case in Jammu and Kashmir)

  • Led to the passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 which for the first time put death penalty as a possible punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years; 
  • The minimum punishment is 20 years in jail.
  • The minimum jail term for rape, which has remained unchanged since the introduction of the IPC in 1860, was increased from seven to 10 years.

National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2017 report:

  • A  total of 3,59,849 cases were reported against women in 2017.( 2016, 3.38 lakh , 3.2 lakh cases 2015) The number of cases reported has increased. U
  • Uttar Pradesh has again topped the list with 56,011 cases of crime against women, followed by Maharashtra with 31,979 cases and West Bengal at 30,002.
  • Crimes against women constitute murder, rape, dowry death, suicide abetment, acid attack, cruelty against women and kidnapping. 
  • ‘Cruelty by husband or his relatives’ accounts for 27.9 per cent of the crimes against women.
  • ‘Assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty’ comprise 21.7 per cent, followed by ‘kidnapping and abduction of women’ with 20.5 per cent and ‘rape’ with 7.0 per cent of reported cases. 

Rape data :

  • ‘Rape’ stands with 7.0 per cent of reported cases. 
  • A total of 32,559 rapes were reported in 2017 in India.
  •  Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest number of rape cases at 5,562 cases being reported in 2017. Uttar Pradesh is second to MP.
  •  Delhi, saw a decline in reporting of rape cases, in 2017, 13,076 were reported, which is the lowest in the last three years.
  • 93.1 percent cases the accused were known to the victims.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura can be seen as moderately safer than other states as they recorded the lowest number of cases.

Way forward:

  • Make the criminal justice system tougher on an offender committing sexual crimes against women and children.

Connecting the dots:

  • Punishments must reinforce people’s faith in the rule of law, not undermine it. Analyse

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