Major criminal law amendments relating to rape laws in India

-Swetha Ravidas 

Introduction:

The word rape is derived from a Latin word seizure. The essential characteristic of rape is ‘forcible seizure’. It is considered as intercourse with a woman without her consent by force fear and fraud. Rape is the most hated crime which destroys the entire psychology of women and pushes her into a deep crisis. So is not only a crime against women but also against society. When the girl is below 16, sex with or without her consent is considered as rape. Rape destroys the entire psychology of women and pushes her into a deep crisis and there have been laws and amendments regarding the same in India.

1972 Controversies:

After 1850 the law related to rape remained unchanged. The need for a change in rape law was important as the present laws do not reflect various kinds of sexual assault .the things go from hand on March 26 1972, a young girl, named Mathura was raped by a policeman in the police station in Maharashtra. The session’s judge acquitted the accused by stating the term ‘consensual sexual intercourse’ rather than rape. As per sec 375(6) of IPC, it states that if the sexual intercourse is with a woman aged below 16, it will consider as a rape, here with or without consent is irrelevant matter. But sessions judge did not take this into account even though Mathura was aged between 14 to 16. High court overrules the decision by differentiating passive submission and consent. But Supreme Court stands with the opinion of the session’s judge and states there are no ‘marks for injury’ so there was ‘no resistance’ on her part. Supreme Court acquitted both by stating it was a ‘peaceful affair’. The decision of the Supreme Court created a panic in the society and was not acceptable. Rape destroys the entire psychology of women and pushes her into a deep crisis and there have been laws and amendments regarding the same in India.

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Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983:

Based on 172nd report of the law commission to amend the laws relating tin to sexual assault in section 375, 376, 354 and 509 of Indian penal code and relevant sections under code of criminal procedure 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act 1872, the bill was drafted. In criminal law amendment Act, 1983, section 376 A to D were added to Indian penal code and 114A introduced to Indian evidence act. And also explained that medical procedure or intervention shall not constitute sexual activity and also sexual intercourse by a man wife, the wife not being under the age of 15 is not considered as rape it is assumed that after marriage husband gets a lifelong consent from the wife. By this section, ‘vagina’ shall also include labia majora.

Before the amendment of 2013, the essential condition for rape is penetration and not ejaculation. Ejaculation alone will not constitute rape but only an attempt to rape. At instance the sexual intercourse being considered as the penetration of the male genital organ into female genital organ only. The court interpreted the term sexual intercourse as the “mere slightest or partial penetration of male organ within the labia Majora or the vulva or pudenda is sufficient to constitute sexual intercourse”. The depth of the penetration is considered immaterial in its findings. Rape destroys the entire psychology of women and pushes her into a deep crisis and there have been laws and amendments regarding the same in India.

Delhi Rape Case:

On 16 December 2012, the whole nation was shocked due to the brutality of the rape. The Nationwide protest forced the legislature to change the laws relating to rape. Here more than changing and widening the definition of rape, the nation protested for the introduction of harsh punishment for the culprits. ‘Justice Verma committee’ was formed to collect recommendations and suggestions to make amendments in rape law and other crimes against women. The short duration committee got suggestions from various lawyers, NGO’s, social welfare committee and the suggestions were more than 80000. Committee’s recommendation introduce the ordinance.

Criminal law amendment act, 2013:

The criminal law amendment act 2013, substituted new sections for section 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D of the Indian penal code. This amendment act specifically mentioned if any officer fails to register any rape case reported to him or try to abort the investigation, he will be also liable for the punishment prescribed. The amendment mentions marital rape after separation. Also for gang rape imprisonment is for life or death and fine is added. 376AB states the punishment for rape of women under 12 is rigorous imprisonment for life not less than 20years.

Criminal law amendment act includes any kind of penetration in any part of the body. In the new act, it is specifically mentioned that the character assassination of the victim is not permissible in the court and such previous conduct or characters are not taken in to account. The new amendment act created new offences which are a threat of one’s privacy, such as the use of criminal force on a woman with intends to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.

Criminal law (Amendment) Act, 2018:

The consequences of infamous Kattua rape case and Unnao rape which shook the entire nation led the passing of criminal law amendment act 2018. An issue which burns in the nation was in 2017 a teenage girl accused an MLA of raping her in his residents near Unnao. In January 2018, an 8-year-old girl in Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir was abducted, then raped and murdered by a group of men.

By criminal law (amendment) act, the law put death as the possible punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years old for the first time. The provision made the offence is punishable with a minimum of 20 years to life imprisonment. The foremost important amendment was in the minimum term of jail, was increased from 7 to 10 years which was remained unchanged since 1860. Rape destroys the entire psychology of women and pushes her into a deep crisis and there have been laws and amendments regarding the same in India.

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