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Developments in Section 376 of IPC

Scope of Section 376 of IPC

Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the Punishment for rape and this particular has undergone various amendments to meet the requisites of the society. It attempts at deterring such criminal offenders by instilling a sense of fear in them. Unfortunately looking at the rate of crimes against women, we cannot totally agree to the fact that such legal provisions have relieved women. In this article, we shall be analyzing section 376 along with the amendments it has undergone over time.

Section 376 before Amendments:

  • Subsection 1 deals with the punishment for rape of a woman in all circumstances except the ones mentioned under Section 376(2). The punishment in such cases was rigorous imprisonment for a period not less than 7 years and which may be extended to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.
  • Subsection 2 deals with the punishment for the rape of a woman committed by police officers, public servants, member of armed forces, etc. The punishment is a period of not less than 10 years which may extend to imprisonment for life i.e. imprisonment for the remainder of his life and shall also be liable to fine.

The Rape Laws underwent a change in 2013 after the brutal Delhi Gang Rape Case (Nirbhaya Rape Case). The nation-wide spread outrage over the brutal Gang rape in the Capital City which eventually led to the death of the Physiotherapy intern became the driving force behind the passing of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013. The Act increased the ambit of the term “Rape” as mentioned under Section 375 of IPC.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013:

The Act came into force on the 3rd of February 2013. It inserted 4 clauses (376 A TO 376 D) in Section 376 taking into consideration cases where the injury inflicted on women during Rape can get them in a permanent vegetative state.

  1. 376 A– Whoever, commits an offence punishable under sub-section (1) or subsection (2) of section 376 and in the course of such commission inflicts an injury which causes the death of the woman or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term of minimum twenty years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life i.e. imprisonment for the remainder natural life of the offender, or with death.
  2. 376 B– Whoever has sexual intercourse with his wife, living separately, whether under a decree of separation or otherwise, without her consent, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term of minimum 2 years which may even extend to 7 years and will also be liable to fine.
  3.  376 C–  Whoever, being:
  •   In a position of authority or in a fiduciary relationship; or
  •  A public servant; or
  •  Superintendent or manager of a jail, remand home or other places of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force, or a women’s or children’s institution; or
  • On the management of a hospital or being on the staff of a hospital, abuses such position or fiduciary relationship to induce or seduce any woman either in his custody or under his charge or present in the premises to have sexual intercourse with him, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term of minimum 5 years which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

4.  376 D– Where a woman is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term of minimum 20 years but which may extend to life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and with fine: Keeping in mind that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018

This Act came into force on the 21st of April 2018. It intended to amend the subsections of Section 376 and also insert a few clauses. In subsection 1 of Section 376, it substituted the 7-year imprisonment with rigorous imprisonment of minimum 10 years which may extend to life imprisonment. Moreover, Section 376 had only 2 subsections and this Act inserted another subsection which stated that whoever commits rape on a woman below 16 years shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of minimum 20 years which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

Further an additional Section 376 AB was inserted after 376 A and it laid down that “Whoever commits rape on a woman below 12 years shall be subjected to rigorous imprisonment of minimum 20 years which may even extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine or with death.” The fine imposed should be reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim.

Then Section 376 DA was added after 376 D and it stated “When a woman below 16 years is raped by 1 or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of such persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with imprisonment for life, and with fine.

Conclusion:

The various Amendments have made an attempt to bring about significant changes in the country but the implementation of such acts on the land has remained lousy. Another issue which continues to be overlooked by our legislators is Marital Rape and unfortunately, none of these Amendment Acts has acknowledged it as a crime. Hence we see Stringent Legislation is required for overall protection of women from outsiders as well as their family members.

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by Ananya Sharma

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