One of the most heinous crimes committed in India is rape. In India, 31,677 instances were reported in 2021, which equates to 86 cases each day on average. These, however, are the registered numbers. I bet India has two times as many alleged rape instances. Even now, some people don’t register their complaints to maintain their family’s dignity, but they should realise that it is their fundamental right to live with dignity and peace in this society. There are laws just to safeguard their rights. In this article, we are going to discuss Section 376 IPC. Let’s begin!
What is section 376 IPC?
Section 376 provides the punishment for rape which is defined under section 375. The punishment for committing rape is rigorous imprisonment for ten years which may extend to Life Imprisonment and a fine. It consists of three subsections and five sub-parts. Subsection 1 mentions the punishment for rape. Sub-section 2 states that if the persons in authority commit rape, they will also be liable to the same punishment. Subsection 3 states that if any person rapes a woman under 16 years of age, he will be liable to punishment for twenty years, which may extend to Life Imprisonment and a fine. The sub-parts are discussed below.
Is Section 376 IPC bailable or non-bailable?
The offence under section 376 IPC is non-bailable and cognisable, which means that the accused isn’t eligible for obtaining bail as a matter of right. The bail would be granted at the court’s discretion.
Amendments to section 376 IPC
- 2013- Insertion of Section 376 A, 376 B, 376 C, 376 D, 376 E
376 A- if a person has committed the offence of rape, which resulted in her death, or being in a vegetative state or injured, then he shall be punished with imprisonment of 20 years, which may extend to Life imprisonment
376 B- if a husband is guilty of raping his wife after their separation, he will be imprisoned for 2 to 7 years and a fine.
376 C – if a person in any authority commits rape, then the person will be punished with imprisonment of a minimum of five years, which may extend to 10 years and a fine
376 D- Punishment for gang rape is 20 years which may extend to Life Imprisonment.
376 E- Second convictions for rape will lead to Life Imprisonment
- 2018- Insertion of Section 376AB, 376DA & 376DB
1. The age of the victim determines the quantum of punishment for rape
2. The minimum punishment under subsection 1 of Section 376 has been increased from 7 years to 10 years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to a fine.
3. Under Section 376, sub-section (3) got inserted, which states that if a woman who is under 16 years of age has been raped, then the minimum punishment will be 20 years which may extend to Life Imprisonment
4. Section 376 AB has been inserted, which states the punishment for raping a woman under 12 years of age. The minimum punishment will be 20 years, extending to Life Imprisonment or Death Penalty.
5. Section 376 DA states that the punishment for gang rape of women under 16 years of age will be Life imprisonment only for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine
Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim & that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.
6. The punishment under section 376 DB (Gang rape of a woman under 12 years of age) will be Life Imprisonment or the death penalty.
Is rape gender-neutral, or Can men be raped too?
According to the reports, 1 in 33 men experience sexual violence, and 1 in 4 women experience sexual assault. Kerala HC recently stated that “Section 376 is not a gender-neutral provision. If a woman tricks a man into a false promise of marriage, she can’t be prosecuted. But a man can be prosecuted for the same offence. What kind of law is this? It should be gender neutral”.
The exploitation of Section 376 IPC
The Delhi High Court states that “False claims and allegations about cases of molestation and rape need to be dealt with an iron hand due to the serious nature of the offences. Unscrupulous litigants institute such litigations in to hope that the other party will capitulate to their demands out of fear or shame. Unless wrongdoers are not made to face their actions' consequences, preventing such frivolous litigations would be difficult.”
Recent Cases of 376 IPC
Hathras case – on 14th September 2020, a 19 yr old Dalit woman was gang raped by four upper caste men in Hathras district. She died after struggling for two weeks in the hospital. The victim’s parents claimed that the cremation was done without the family's consent. The Police arrested the accused. He was charged under Sec. 376 IPC.
Dr Priyanka Reddy case – This is a 2019 case where a 26 yr old woman was gang raped and brutally murdered by four men.
Landmark Judgments on Section 376 IPC
Shakti Mills case - In the Shakthi Mills Case, the Bombay High Court issued a ruling last month supporting the constitutionality of Section 376E of the Indian Penal Code, which allows for the imposition of a life sentence or the death penalty upon a second conviction for rape.
Vishakha v state of Rajasthan- A social worker claimed that she was gang raped when she tried to stop child marriage. This incident led to the enactment of the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct at Work Act, 2013. Also, various guidelines were proposed to meet the execution of the act.
Mukesh & Anr. Vs. State for NCT of Delhi & Ors. (The Nirbhaya Case) - the woman was gang raped by five men (including a minor) on a moving bus. The four adults were sentenced to death, and the minor was sent to a rehabilitation centre. This incident brought the 2013 criminal law amendment.
Many incidences go unreported because the victims are afraid of social stigma. At every turn, from police stations to courtrooms, victims are subjected to harassment. Every stage of the victims' battle for justice, from the poor healthcare system to the criminal enforcement system, adds to their agony. Our society significantly contributes to creating obstacles to getting justice. Therefore, until and until change originates from inside the society with the legal reforms, the impact of the laws will never be fully realised.