BEGINNING OF REFORMS IN RAPE LAW
The tragic Mathura case where a rape of a girl by the protectors of law (police officers) inside the police station led to Reforms in rape law. That year (1983) witnessed first amendment in the rape law. A new category of rape for offenses committed when a victim was in custody of the state was inculcated. In such a situation like this. The law said a court should presume a woman who says she did not consent is telling the truth. Previously the law was silent on the matter of rape in detention. Along with it, the amendment ruled that rape trials should be conducted as closed proceedings and also refrained from a publication of victims’ identities.
There was an addition of Clause (5) of section 375 IPC with the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1983. The object of the new clause was to protect and safeguard the interest of the woman who accords consent for sexual intercourse without knowing the nature and consequences of the act by reason of unsoundness of mind or under the influence of. In such cases, there is an assumption that the consent of the woman is not free and voluntary to acquit the accused of the charge of rape.
Clause (3) to section 375 IPC asserts that consent of the woman in order to discharge the accused of the charge of rape must be given freely and voluntarily without any fear of death or injury. This Amendment has led to the widening of the scope of the clause. It is with the insertion of the words “or any person in whom she has Interest” after the words “putting her” in fear of death or hurt in the clause.
There have been instances where on the grounds of examination of the victim, questions challenging the moral character of the victim are asked. So, in order to uproot this problem, an amendment in the year 2002 came into action. This led to changes in the rules governing the presentation of evidence. It also disallowed cross-examination of rape victims that raised questions about their moral character or previous sexual experience.
Also the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses” Bill has been passed by the Parliament. It led to set up of special courts for juvenile victims of sexual abuse.
The year 2013 too witnessed certain amendments. It started from making the police refusing/failing to register a FIR of rape an offense (Section 166A, IPC). Also, prior to 2013, the IPC provided for a minimum sentence (seven years in non-aggravated cases and ten years in aggravated cases). It also provided discretion to judges to reduce the sentence below the minimum by providing “adequate and special reasons”. The 2013 amendments removed this discretion that judges had to reduce the sentence below the minimum.
Shockingly, prior to 2013 amendments, section 375 of the IPC only stipulated the Penile Vaginal penetration as rape.
But now it also covers any kind of penetration and also in any body part of the woman or girl. There was also the inclusion of registering complaints and medical examination. Sexual intercourse with a woman with or without her consent. When she is under 18 years of age amounts to rape. The Amendment in 2013 led to the increase in age of consent from 16 to 18.