The Criminal Law Ammendment act 2013: New Anti Rape Laws for the Protection of Women

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India is witnessing the heartless gang rape cases where innocent girls become prey of a group of cold-blooded persons. All over the world, gang rape cases are reported where more than two offenders are involved. The primary reason for gang rape as pointed out by various studies are alcohol consumption, use of drugs, attacks at night, less resistance by woman and harsh sexual physical attack outcomes. It is often found that the offenders in gang rape cases are youngsters and habitual offenders. Under the pressure of alcohol or drugs, they are optimized by the other criminals to commit the offence. It is miserable to say that violent attacks on the victim cause many injuries which are more severe as compared to other rape cases. Before and subsequent to the crime, the offender normally dehumanizes the intended woman.
Miserably in India, more than 20,000 rapes per year are being reported. Even though the Indian Penal Code contains elaborate provisions to prevent rape cases and penalize the offenders, those laws are not effective or properly implemented. In spite of these laws, there is an unprecedented growth in rape cases where some of them are known to the world, but some of them remain silent due to the infuriation caused to the victim. Recently, the Indian Penal Code has been amended by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which gives extensive provisions to prevent sexual offences. At the International level, the United Nations have concluded Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1993 which in time and again expressed as the International Bill of Rights for Women. The Convention calls the State parties to embrace the rationale of equality of both men and women in the national legislation and get rid of the laws that are discriminatory and implement laws that forbid discrimination against women.
The year 2014 welcomed Delhi with one of the merciless events where a Danish lady tourist of 51 years was gang raped while she was enquiring for the correct direction to move on. This incident was after the people of Delhi had somehow revived their mind from the gang rape of 23 year old lady in a bus at night in 2012. After attacking her friend, six persons including the driver of the private bus raped the girl and caused fatal assault. Though emergency treatment was given abroad, India witnessed her demise giving some questions behind. Widespread protest against the Union and State Governments altered the total tranquility in India. In fact, the legal system in India failed to provide adequate security to woman or the given safeguards were proved to be insufficient. The accused were arrested immediately and were condemned for murder as well as sexual assault. Since one of the accused was under 18 years, he was send to juvenile home whereas one of them died in Tihar jail. The juvenile was imprisoned for three years and the remaining offenders were sentenced to death. There was no chance for the accused in the High Court where the death sentence was confirmed. But the execution has been stayed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to give the accused a possibility to prefer an appeal.
A  judicial committee was constituted in 2012 itself to give suggestions for amending the law for fast investigation and criminalize sexual offenders. The judicial committee under former Chief Justice of India, J S Verma, was directed to submit a report to recommend the changes to be brought in the legal system in cases involving sexual assault. The committee collected opinions from legal experts, NGO’s, Jurists, Women’s Group and even from common people. They comes to conclusion that failures on the part of police and the government authorities are the prime cause for crime against women. As a result  on February, the President promulgated Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 according to which new legislation were passed and fast track courts to try rape cases were established.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was enacted subsequently and added several new offences like acid attack (S.326A), attempt to acid attack (S.326B), sexual harassment (S.354A), act with intent to disrobe a woman (S.354B), Voyeurism (S.354C) and Stalking (S.354D). The definition of ‘rape’ has been drastically changed, Section 370 was substituted with Section 370A which deals with trafficking of person, Section 376A was added that deals with sexual assault and some of the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code have also been changed.
Again in 2014, in Baduan in State of Uttar Pradesh two Dalit girls were gang raped and murdered and their bodies were found hanged on a tree. This heartrending event raised scores of criticisms against India at international level. Evidently, the Government was condemned for the collapse of law and order and the limpness of administration in States. The Shakti Mills Gang rape case (2013) was yet another incident that stunned the Mumbai people. Here, a photo journalist of 22 years was gang raped in South Mumbai in 2013. The trial Court convicted the accused on the grounds of gang rape, assault, unnatural sex, destruction of evidence, common intention, wrongful restraint and criminal conspiracy.
In this regard it is pertinent to note some of the findings and judicial interpretations given by Courts with respect to Gang rape. The State of Karnataka viewed one of the similar rape cases where a ward boy sexually assaulted a nurse while at work. For 37 years she remained in a vegetative state and the question of euthanasia came before the Supreme Court in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v Union of India (2011) which rejected the plea of euthanasia. In Kerala, 23 year old girl was raped and murdered in passenger train in 2011. The Trissur Fast Track Court found the accused guilty and awarded death sentence. The conclusion reached by the trial Court was appreciated by the High Court of Kerala. Recently, the Supreme Court stayed the death sentence of the accused on the point that he should be given a chance to appeal before the apex Court.
Even before that another astonishing wave was sent by the rape and murder of 28 year BPO employee Prathibha Srikanth Murthy in 2005 near Bangalore. The trial Court convicted the accused for imprisonment till death and another ten years rigorous imprisonment was also awarded. When appeal was preferred by the accused, the Supreme Court upheld the view of trial Court and High Court in Som Mittal v Govt. Of Karnataka (2008). The never ending incidents turned out in the 1990s and in 1996, Priyadarshini Mattoo, 25 year law student in Delhi was brutally raped and killed. Though the trial Court acquitted the accused, the Delhi High Court found the accused guilty and sentenced him to death. The judiciary was highly appreciated for making a landmark reversal of the decision. Again the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case was brought before the Supreme Court in Santosh Kumar Singh v State Th. Cbi (2010) where the Supreme Court upheld the decision reached out by the High Court.
In Promod Mahto v State of Bihar (1989) the High Court of Rajasthan rightly pointed out that “The Explanation under Section 376 has been introduced by the legislature with a view to effectively deal with the growing menace of gang rape. In such circumstances, it is not necessary that the prosecution should adduce clinching proof of a completed act of rape by each one of the accused on the victim or on each one of the victims where there is more than one in order to find the accused guilty of gang rape and convict them Under Section 376 IPC.”
The Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983 was passed as a result of Mathura Rape Case in 1972 where a tribal girl called Mathura was raped in police custody by two policemen in Maharashtra. When this case was brought before the Supreme Court in Tuka Ram and Anr. v State of Maharashtra , unfortunately the Supreme Court acquitted the accused due to lack of evidence to prove the case. Hence, the new amendment inserted Section 114 A of Evidence Act which states “if the victim says that she did not consent to the sexual intercourse, the Court shall presume that she did not consent as a rebuttable presumption”. Moreover, under Indian Penal Code, custodial rape was made a specific offence and made punishable. These changes were introduced to overcome the difficulties faced in the Mathura Case.
The incidents of gang rape are still happening in India where some cases remains unreported to the world due to the vengeance or disgrace by the rape victims. Due to increasing number of reported rape cases and the gravity in each crime, India has lost its repute in the international filed. Despite the fact that the governments change from time to time, there is no much development in the legal system. The slow process is insufficient in case of protection granted to women. There are several laws that govern women in India, but the implementation is a gradual process. Hence, there is an urgent need for a mechanism for  achieving the  goals enshrined under the national legislations and international conventions  to deal with rape cases in India.