The Karnataka High Court has recommended an amendment to Section 376D of Indian Penal Code to provide capital punishment for the offence of ‘gangrape’.
The Court observed that “though Indian Penal Code was enacted by Act 45 of 1860, and even after the lapse of 74 years of independence, still the woman is not safe in the hands of rapists/violators of the law.
Facts of the Case
- On 13.10.2012 at about 9.15 p.m., near a road which is situated between Bangalore University Main Building and National Law School of India University, when the victim girl and her friend were talking to each other in a parked car belonging, all of a sudden, all the accused persons–Ramu, Shivanna, Maddura, Eleyaiah, Eeraiah, Raja, and Dodda Eeraiah, surrounded the said car holding deadly weapons like iron rods, see-saws, long knives, draggers and rope in their hands.
- They forcibly opened the left front door of the car and dragged the victim girl into the forest area and forcibly committed gang rape.
- They were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court under Sections 427, 366, 323. 324. 397, 376(2)(g) r/w 149 of IPC.
Court uphold the trial court sentence
- The accused persons have acted like deadly beasts in the forest. It was as if the wild animals were hunting their helpless prey like a rabbit for satiating their sex hunger. In the present case, these accused persons have hunted victim girl in order to satisfy their desire of lust and have gang raped simultaneously one after another and some of them twice and thrice, which is barbaric against a human being, who is worse than cruel animals and cannot be tolerated.
- Taking into consideration that there are more than seven lakhs working women in Bangalore as their strength in India alone is 20% as per the information from the World Bank, the bench said “In the wake of this incident, there has been a public furore over the safety and security of womenfolk. The incident that occurred in the vicinity of the National Law School of India University in the forest area is an incident that all human beings have to bow their heads. It is a solitary incident of ghastly crime, which has raised a question mark on the safety of all.”
- The Court further added that “when the ghastly incident occurred on 13.10.2012, no human being was there except nature. Nature has viewed the barbaric ‘gang rape’ by the accused and thereby it has made them to leave a ‘clue’ of their barbaric act.”
- “‘Law’ is called ‘the King of Kings’ and nobody can ‘escape from the justice’ – Kerchief has become the ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ (weapon of Lord Sri Krishna) to punish the accused persons.” said the Court
Court rejected plea by accused seeking leniency
- It noted that “The Court has to deal with rapists with an iron hand. Admittedly, in the present case, the appellants-accused persons have not expressed any remorse or repentance for the gory crime; rather they opted to remain silent while recording their statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. Their deliberate, well-designed silence with a standard defence of “false” accusation reveals their lack of kindness or compassion and leads to believe that they can never be reformed.”
- It included “The damage caused by accused persons is immense, irreparable and cannot be retractable and the victim has to suffer throughout her life. Therefore, the appellants-accused are not entitled for any leniency.”
Observations made by the Court
The Court noted that Rape violates Fundamental Right Guaranteed under Article 21
- Sexual violence by the accused apart from being a dehumanizing act is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a woman. It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity as well. It degrades and humiliates the victim and where the victim is a helpless innocent woman, child or a minor, it leaves behind a traumatic experience. A rapist not only causes physical injuries but leaves behind a scar on the most cherished position i.e., her dignity, honour, reputation and chastity.
- Rape is not only an offence against the victim girl but a crime against the entire society’. It is a crime against basic human rights and also violates the most cherished fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
- The society that provides respect and dignity to woman flourishes with nobility and prosperity and a society that does not put the woman on such a high pedestal have to face miseries and failures regardless of how so much noble deed they perform otherwise. The Court referred to the meaning of the Saptapadi Mantra, by quoting the MANU-SMRITI, Vedas.
- Quoting Swami Vivekananda the bench said ‘The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women’.
On Aspect of capital punishment for the offence of ‘gangrape’
- Justice demands that the Courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the Courts reflect public abhorrence. The Court must not only keep in view the rights of the criminal, but also the rights of the victim of the crime and the society at large while considering the imposition of appropriate punishment.
- It added “Victim, who had come to India from Kathmandu, Nepal and joined the Law College with so many dreams and because of the ghastly incident in her life by the accused persons, she has discontinued her studies and has gone back to her native place cursing our country (India) with all frustration. Because of the ghastly incident committed by the accused on the victim girl, the law and order of the entire nation particularly Karnataka State is made responsible. Since the ‘reputation of the Country is at stake’, no lenience can be shown to the accused persons. Any misplaced sympathy to the accused comes in the way of upholding ‘dignity of the court, the majesty of law, traditions and cultures right from our ancient times’.
The bench recommended the following:
- We hereby recommend the Legislature/Central Government to further amend the provisions of Section 376D of Indian Penal Code – Gang rape into capital punishment in addition to the existing provision for imprisonment of life and with fine on par with the provisions of Section 376AB and 376DB of Indian Penal Code keeping in view of definition of ‘Woman’ under Section 10 of Indian Penal Code in order to curb the menace of ‘gang rape’ in the society at large.
- We hope and trust that the increasing gender sensitivity is crucial to enhance women’s safety. The safety of women is not a guarantee despite the stringent amended law is placed after Nirbhaya’s case. It is high time for the Home Department, State Legal Services Authorities, Woman Organisations, and Prints and Electronic Media to start conducting awareness programmes for the general public.
- A child should be taught to respect women in society in the same way as he is taught to respect men. Gender equality should be made a part of the school curriculum. The school teachers and parents should be trained, not only to conduct regular personality-building and skill-enhancing exercise but also to keep a watch on the actual behavioural pattern of the children so as to make them gender sensitised. The educational institutions, government institutions, the employers and all concerned must take steps to create awareness with regard to gender sensitisation and to respect women.
- Sensitization of the public on gender justice through TV and the press should be welcomed. Banners and placards in the public transport vehicles like autos, taxis and buses, etc. must be ensured. Use of streetlights, illuminated bus-stops and extra police patrol during odd hours must be ensured.
- Police/Security guards must be posted at dark and lonely places like parks, streets, etc. CCTV cameras have to be installed in important places. Mobile apps for immediate assistance of women should be introduced and effectively maintained. Apart from effective implementation of the various legislation protecting women, change in the mindset of the society at large and creating awareness in the public on gender justice, would go a long way to combat violence against women.
The Court made the following appeals to general public
- The Court appeals, now time warrants for the father, mother, brother, husband of the victim and the society at large, who admonishes rapists, who are violators of the law, should be supportive of survivors of rape so as to ensure the right to life of such person/s is mandatory under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
- The Court referred to a quotation of Mahatma Gandhi, “The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night, that day we can say that India has achieved independence.”
- When an educated woman studying Law Course was unable to go out of the hostel with her friend at 9.30 p.m. as the accused ravished her by abducting and committing gang rape on her and we cannot say that we have achieved the Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of Indian Independence.
- It completed by saying “We, the Judges are the societal parents. If our concern for the society of girls/ women can be summed up in one sentence that “An attack on anybody’s daughter is an attack on our daughter.”
Case Name: RAMU v. State Of Karnataka
Case No: CRIMINAL APPEAL No.246/2014
Coram: JUSTICE B. VEERAPPA AND JUSTICE K. NATARAJAN