Rape Laws in India

    Edited by: Vaani Garg

    Evolution of Rape Laws in India

    Rape is defined as an unlawful sexual intercourse which is either carried out forcibly or is done under the fear of death or hurt. In India the term Rape was first introduced in IPC in the year of 1860. Before that there were no specific law that dealt with this topic. An amendment had taken place in the year of 1983, a new category of rape was introduced: ‘Custodial rape’ and the amendment also said that a court should presume a woman who says she did not consent is telling the truth. In the year 2002 another amendment was made which prohibited the cross examination of rape victims which was enlisted the Indian Evidence Act.

    In 2013 the Criminal Law Amendment was made in the light of the case of Nirbhaya, where many amendments took place in order to cover all the crimes against women in India. the amendments included amendment of the punishment for rape of women from seven years to ten years, rape of girls below the age of sixteen years was punishable for a term of twenty years or life imprisonment, new offences like stalking, acid attacks, and voyeurism were added into the definition of rape.

    Provisions of Rape Laws in India

    Under the Indian Penal Code, from section 375- 377 lists down the sexual offences.

    Section 375 of IPC defines rape as, when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman under the following conditions:

    1. against her will
    2. without her consent
    3. with her consent when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in the fear of death or of hurt
    4. with her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married
    5. with her consent when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent
    6. with or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of age
    7. when she is unable to communicate consent.

    Section 376(1) states the punishment for rape which shall not be less than ten years but may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376(2) states that when a police officer, commits rape he shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than ten years but may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376-A states the punishment for causing death or resulting in a persistent vegetative state of victim, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than twenty years but may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376-AB states the punishment for rape on woman under twelve years of age shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than twenty years but may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376-B states punishment for sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation, whoever has sexual intercourse with his own wife, who is living separately, whether under the decree of separation or otherwise, without her consent, shall be punished for a term which shall not be less than two years but may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376-C states whoever, being in a position or a public servant or superintendent or manager of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force or a woman’s or children’s institution or on the management of a hospital or being on stuff of a hospital abuses such position or seduces any woman to have sexual intercourse with him shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than five years but may extend to imprisonment for ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376-D defines gang rape as, where a woman is raped by one or more persons, where each of those have committed the offence of rape shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than twenty years but may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376-DA states the punishment for gang rape on woman under sixteen years of age, each person shall be punished with imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376- DB states the punishment for gang rape on woman under twelve years of age, each person shall be punished with imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

    Section 376- E states the punishment for repeat offenders, they shall be punished with imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

    Notable cases that dealt with rape

    Aruna Shanbag case (1973): Aruna Shanbag was brutally raped by a ward boy who used a dog chain to throttle her, cutting off her oxygen supply and since the year 1973 she was put on the support of a ventilator and left her in a permanent vegetative state. She never recovered from that trauma for 42 years and due to that she was in a coma. In 2015 she was given passive euthanasia. The perpetrator was convicted for assault and was released free in 1980.

    Nirbhya case (2012): On December 16 2012, a young paramedic was beaten and gang raped by 6 men on a moving bus and later died due to injuries suffered by her. Large scale of protests took place across the nation due to the brutality and the rape crime which was committed. All the six convicts were arrested, one being juvenile was released in 2015 serving his three years, another convict committed suicide while in jail and the other four convicts were hanged in March 2020.

    Unnao Rape case (2017): Unnao was raped by three people and was later kidnapped for nine days. All the convicts were arrested and were given the punishment of imprisonment for ten years with fine of Rs. 10 lakhs.

    Kathua Rape case (2018): An eight year old girl was raped and held captive in a temple where she was sexually assaulted and was strangled to death by the perpetrators. The six convicts were arrested which included the temple priest and the the other three police officers were arrested and they were found guilty and three convicts were given the punishment of imprisonment of 25 years with a fine of Rs. 1 lakhs. and the other three accused police officers were sentenced to five years in jail for destroying crucial evidence in the case.

    Hyderabad rape case (2019): A veterinary doctor was raped and smothered to death by four men. The convicts were later killed in an ‘encounter’ by the police officers.