Everyone remembers the night of 16 December 2012 when gang rape on a 23-year-old
girl shocked the whole world. The Incident chilled the spine of every Indian as
security of women appeared absent in India. The government appeared unaware and
uninterested in the safety of women. The judicial system appeared helpless for
providing justice to women who suffered.
The world was even more shocked when
the guilty men were shamelessly using the loopholes of the judicial mechanism
and the judiciary could not do anything. That night various loopholes uncovered
themselves. Everyone was shocked and it looked that changes would be made to
improve women security and ensuring a better judicial mechanism. Changes were
made in the law; strict provisions were introduced but has the situation
changed. It has been over 8 years since the tragic incident took place but has
there been any change?
Even today incidents of brutal sexual offences against
women take place and the system still appears helpless. In India, every 15
minutes a woman is raped. In 2019, as per National Crime Records Bureau,
32,033 cases of rape were reported. Years have gone by since that awakening but
the situation does not seem to change, every time, the government appears
unaware and the judiciary helpless in coping with the situation of women in
India. Here's a look at the laws dealing with the offence of rape and the
recent major amendments.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines Rape. According to it, rape is said
to be committed by a man on a woman when penetration, as defined in the
provision, takes place under any of the following circumstances:
Under IPC, following should be the nature of penetration along with the
above-mentioned circumstance for an act to be considered as rape:
- Against her will,
- Without her consent,
- With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or
any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt,
- 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,
- 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
- With or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of
- When she is unable to communicate consent,
- Penile penetration in the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of the
- Penetration of any body part (other than penis) or any object in the
vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of the woman, or
- Manipulation to cause penetration of woman's body part in the vagina,
mouth, urethra or anus of the woman, or
- Application of his mouth to the vagina, anus or urethra of the
The provision was not like this before 2013. The earlier provision was given a
major amendment in 2013 by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act. The amendment
broadened the scope of the provision. The act defined penetration. The act also
added other circumstance which would constitute as rape.
sexual intercourse was defined as rape and penetration was considered as sexual
intercourse. But what constituted as penetration was not defined. The amendment
also added the seventh circumstance in the provision which provides for
inability to communicate consent as the absence of it. Thus, the amendment gave
a very comprehensive definition of rape by defining the term penetration and
broadening the circumstances under which rape is committed from the woman's
Sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB and 376E of the IPC
prescribes punishment for the offence of rape. Out of the mentioned provisions,
Section 376 was amended by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013; Sections 376A,
376B, 376C, 376D and 376E were introduced by the act and Section 376AB, 376DA
and 376DB were introduced by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.
Before the introduction of additional provisions in 2013 and 2018, section 376
of the IPC was the only provision punishing for the offence of rape.
As it stood
then, punishment of either description which shall be not less than 7 years and
extend to imprisonment for life and fine was provided for the offence of rape.
It provided lesser punishment of either description which may extend to two
years of imprisonment for rape committed by the husband on his wife, provided
the wife was not under 12 years of age.
The provision also dealt with certain
specific situations wherein relatively stricter punishment was provided.
Punishment of rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years which may
extend to imprisonment for life and fine was prescribed for such specific
- A police officer or a public servant committing rape by taking advantage
of his position,
- A staff of jail, remand home, place of custody or hospital committing
rape by taking advantage of his official position,
- Committing rape on a pregnant woman knowing she is pregnant,
- Committing rape on woman under 12 years of age,
- Committing gang rape.
By the amendments of 2013 and 2018, changes to the amount of punishment and the
specific circumstances attracting stricter punishment were made. The amended
provision provides for rigorous imprisonment specifically which shall not be
less than 10 years but extend to imprisonment for life and fine with stricter
punishments being provided for certain specific situations.
situations attracting stricter punishments, the amended provision provides for
rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which
may extend to imprisonment for the convict's remainder natural life and fine.
The amendment also widened the scope of the provision by making changes to
situations that attract stricter punishment.
Following situations were added by
Following situations were removed from the provision:
- Rape committed by a member of armed forces[18
- Rape committed by a person of trust,
- Rape committed during communal violence,
- Rape committed on a woman not capable of giving consent,
- Rape committed while being in a position of control over a woman,
- Rape committed on a mentally or physically suffering woman[23
- Causing grievous hurt on a woman while committing rape on her,
- Committing rape on a woman, repeatedly
- Committing rape on a woman under 12 years of age,
- Committing gang rape.
After the amendments, the above situations are dealt with specifically under
sections 376AB and 376D, 376DA and 376DB of the IPC, respectively.
Section 376A was introduced in 2013 which provided for punishment of rigorous
imprisonment of not less than 20 years but extend to imprisonment for convict's
remainder natural life or death if while the commission of rape the convict
causes such injury which leads to death of the woman or causes her to be in a
persistent vegetative state.
Section 376B introduced in 2013 provides for punishment for when a husband has
sexual intercourse with his wife living separately. It provides for imprisonment
of not less than 2 years which may extend to 7 years and a fine.
Section 376C provides for rigorous imprisonment of five to ten years when a
person in authority uses such authority to induce or seduce such woman to have
sexual intercourse with him.
The introduction of Section 376D created a separate provision for the offence of
gang rape. The provision addressed the gravity of the offence and provided for
stricter punishment. It provides for punishment of rigorous imprisonment of not
less than twenty years but may extend to the convict's remainder life and fine.
Section 376E provides for punishment to repeated offenders. It punishes persons,
previously convicted under any of Sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376D, 376DA or
376DB. If such person is subsequently convicted under any of the said sections
shall be punished with imprisonment for life which means imprisonment for the
rest of the person's life or death.
Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 made some very positive changes to the
offence of rape in India, like the gravity of various situations under which
rape is committed was addressed, nature of the punishment was made stricter. But
there were few aspects of the offence which were left unaddressed by the
amendment and were addressed by an amendment in 2018.
Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 also made some important changes to the
offence of rape in India on the lines of the age group of the victims.
Section 376AB deals with the cases when rape is committed on a woman of less
than 12 years of age. It provides for rigorous imprisonment which shall not be
less than 20 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life which shall
mean imprisonment for the person's remaining natural life or death and fine.
The amendment made more important changes to the offence of gang rape. With the
introduction of Section 376DA and 376DB offence of gang rape on a woman of under
16 years of age and on a woman of under 12 years of age, respectively, was
introduced. The amendment addressed the various dimensions of the offence of
gang rape. The former provides for punishment for imprisonment for life and fine
while the latter provides for imprisonment for life or death and fine. In both
the cases, imprisonment for life means imprisonment for the person's remaining
It can very well be said that our laws have come a long way and are placed in a
much better position than they were a few years back to tackle the offence of
rape. It can very well be said that recent incidents of rape have shell shocked
society creating awareness in society regarding the offence of rape. But despite
all the awareness and actions, still, there are various shortfalls in the
society, law and judicial mechanism which need to be changed to make society
secure for women.
There are various aspects of rape that are still not addressed by the laws such
as marital rape. However far we may have come towards making society secure for
women but still the social stigma attached to the survivor of rape is present as
they are seen as the wrong doer and the rapists are given some sort of sympathy.
Such social stigma should be completely removed and the survivor of the offence
should be encouraged to come out, express themselves and lead a normal life. Any
sort of sympathy given to the perpetuator or victimisation of the survivor is
keeping us away from a women secure society.
Written By: Raghav Agarwal,
- Section 375(First), IPC
- Section 375(Secondly), IPC
- Section 375(Thirdly), IPC
- Section 375(Fourthly), IPC
- Section 375(Fifthly), IPC
- Section 375(Sixthly), IPC
- Section 376(seventhly), IPC
- Section 375(a), IPC
- Section 375(b), IPC
- Section 375(c), IPC
- Section 375(d), IPC
- Supra 9
- Section 376, IPC
- Section 376(c), IPC
- Section 376(f), IPC
- Section 376(g), IPC
- Section 376(j), IPC
- Section 376(k), IPC
- Section 376(l), IPC
- Section 376(m), IPC
- Section 376(n), IPC
Student, USLLS, GGSIPU