NFHS petition to Justice Verma committee on suggestions rearding RAPE laws
30th Dec 2012
Chairman, Hon’ble Justice J S Verma,
Justice Verma Committee,
New Delhi – 110001
Subject: Regarding suggestions, experience, knowledge and ideas from our NGO “National Family Harmony Society®” NFHS regarding possible amendments to the criminal and other laws of Sexual Assault
About National Family Harmony Society®: “National Family Harmony Society®” NFHS is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) promoting the cause of “family harmony” and “gender equality”. It is registered under “The Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960” and is based in Bangalore. We have branches in more than 16 states and in abroad too. We have approximately 16500 members all over India. To know more about us please visit http://www.family-harmony.org / http://www.498a.org.in.
The National Capital Delhi has been witnessing widespread demonstration, protest by members of public and members of some political parties regarding the recent assault on a young woman.
Our NGO condemn the incident in strongest possible words to start with this petition.
But at the same time I express deep displeasure on the advertisement in leading news papers on 25 December 2012 by your committee. I would like to reproduce the opening lines of the said advertisement.
“The recent incident of rape and brutal assault on a young woman in Delhi has shook the conscience of the nation and has triggered a serious debate among jurists, civil society members and women’s groups about inadequacy of the present laws to protect the safety and dignity of women”
No doubt everyone is concerned about the safety and dignity of woman but why the conscience of the society is not triggered by the same brutal assault on her boy friend who was accompanying her and who was also thrashed black and blue? Why the Nation does not want to change/amend the laws to make the MEN also safe on the roads during night? Why Nation is not debating the pain and agony of an entire family of a poor constable who lost his life due to the reckless and irresponsible protest by unruly mob? Why we are not debating how to compensate a constable who lost his life on duty? Is the life of the boyfriend who was beaten black and blue and the poor constable less important in any way?
We hear in media every other day that elderly couple murdered for gain. Why the conscience of this nation is not triggered on such brutal and gruesome murder on innocent and helpless senior citizens who are at the fag end of their life?
If the law is to be amended then why only to amend the law related to woman? Is the life of MEN less worthy?
It is really unfortunate that in this era we are making laws keeping gender in mind. Let us keep in mind that a life of a MAN is worth the same the life of a WOMAN. But since the mandate of your committee is limited to invite suggestions regarding amendments to Woman related laws hence I limit myself to suggestions regarding the same.
While amending the laws let us not get swayed by emotions and sentiments and rather use our senses because it is very easy to demand to hang a person caught by police but you being a retired judge of the Highest court of this country knows very well the way police works in this country. If the police of our country were fair in investigation and efficient in arresting the right people involved in the crime then there is no need of Judiciary at all.
I would offer following suggestions in this regard.
Gender Equality: Let us draw our experience of other section of the IPC which has been dealing with crime against woman. The classic section which comes to one’s mind is 498A IPC which deals with cruelty to wife by husband and his relatives. Similarly Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act enacted by parliament to protect woman. Since these laws were made keeping in mind to protect woman with no protection to man hence these laws have been seriously abused and misused. Even as per the own admission of Supreme Court which has termed 498A IPC as Legal Terror. Recently I came across a news article in a newspaper and I have reproduced the news below.
Dehradun (Uttara-khand): Women it seems have turned the table on men, yet again. A man from Dehradun has alleged that a gang of girls abducted, forcefully had sex with him and filmed the act. He also claims he was threatened with dire consequences if the went to the police.
As per the FIR lodged at Kotwali police station a man was abducted from near the Hindu National College by a group of women, raped and an MMS was filmed of the act.
The complainant claimed that on April 9 afternoon a few women approached him asking for directions. One of them sprayed “something” on his face that made him unconscious. He was then taken to a building and sexually molested by the women. He claims a video was also shot while he was being ravaged.
He was later dumped near bus stand with a warning that he would be killed if he informed the police. Cops are getting him examined by a medical professional and investigating the matter.
Law does not provide the perpetrators of the above crime to be booked under 375/376 of IPC as it is not Gender Neutral. It is an accepted practice worldwide that Criminal Laws should not be made keeping a particular gender in mind because a crime is a crime and should not be differentiated based on gender. Our common sense says that a man murdered by woman deserves the same punishment what a man will get for killing a woman.
I would like to invite your kind attention to the “ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SECOND REPORT” ON “REVIEW OF RAPE LAWS MARCH, 2000” D.O.No.6(3)(36)/2000_LC(LS) dated March 25, 2000. Section 3.1 of the said reprt recommends following changes to the IPC.
3.1. Substitution of definition of `rape’ by definition of `sexual assault’. Not only women but young boys, are being increasingly subjected to forced sexual assaults. Forced sexual assault causes no less trauma and psychological damage to a boy than to a girl subjected to such offence. Boys and girls both are being subjected to oral sexual intercourse too. According to some social activists like Ms Sheela Barse, both young girls and boys are being regularly used for all kinds of sexual acts and sexual perversions in certain tourist centres like Goa – mainly for edification of the foreign tourists. Sakshi have also recommended for widening the scope of the offence in section 375 and to make it gender neutral. Some of the Western countries have already done this. It is also necessary to include under this new definition (sexual assault) not only penile penetration but also penetration by any other part of the body (like finger or toe) or by any other object.
Explanation to section 375 has also been substituted by us to say that penetration to any extent whatsoever shall be deemed to be penetration for the purpose of this section. This is so provided for the reason that in the case of children, penetration is rarely complete – for physical reasons. So far as the Exception is concerned, we have retained the existing Exception the only change made being in the matter of age; we have raised the age of the `wife’ from fifteen to sixteen. The age of the person assaulted sexually referred to in the clause “sixthly” has also been raised to sixteen from fifteen.
Hence I would strongly suggest to make the IPC 376 Gender Neutral.
Misuse for punishment: There have been recent voices about making death punishment for those committing RAPE. Well there is absolutely no problem in it that the punishment for IPC 375/376 can be enhanced to death punishment but the same must be extended to those who misuse the law and implicate innocent with ulterior motives. It is a matter of common knowledge that criminal laws can be very easily misused. Even 498A IPC which was made with very good intention to protect wife has been seriously misused and abused to such an extent that at several occasion Supreme Court has voiced its concern and even asked Government to consider amendments to it. We are concerned that while amending any laws we must keep the misuse clause in it so that it will deter those who want to misuse it and only genuine victims are able to file complaint. It has also come across recently that a large number of rape cases are being filed by women who were living in live-in relations and once the relation soured then they filed case under Domestic Violence Act and Rape case which is nothing but abuse/misuse of the law.
I would draw your attention to the below news article
“The allegation is without substance and without an iota of evidence,” a bench of justices BS Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar said on the allegation levelled against Gandhi of rape of a girl in Uttar Pradesh and illegally detaining her along with her parents.
“The reputation of respondent no 6 (Rahul Gandhi) has been damaged by the undesirable act of the petitioner (Samrite),” the bench said.
The apex court further said the petition was “misconceived” and that Samrite abused the process of law on the basis of incorrect statement.
While influential persons like Rahul Gandhi can approach the highest court of this country and get the false case quashed but the common citizen has to wait for several years before false charges against him are proved false by the court of law.
Hence we strongly recommend that severe punishment clause must be added if anyone found guilty of misusing this provision to implicate innocents.
Fast track Court: On case of both 498A as well as 375/376 IPC it has bee observed that it takes many years for the trial to conclude. Hence we suggest that all such case should be conducted only in the session court so as to speed up the case.
In view of the above discussion we suggest following:
- We would strongly suggest to make the IPC 375/376 Gender Neutral.
- Hence we strongly recommend that severe punishment clause must be added if anyone found guilty of misusing this provision to implicate innocents.
- Hence we suggest that all such case including 498A, 375 and 376 should be conducted only in the session court so as to speed up the case.
P Suresh, President,
National Family Harmony Society