The Delhi High Court has sought government’s response on a Public Interest Litigation stating Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code are biased towards men and don’t include women as the perpetrators. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar have sent a notice to the government to reply within three weeks on this issue. The matter has been posted for further hearing on October 23.
The petitioner, Sanjiv Kumar, has asserted that the existing provisions recognise only a man as the perpetrator and the woman as a victim of rape. “Gender is central to any understanding of how and why sexual violence occurs. What is clear, however, is that while females are the main victims of sexual violence and males the main perpetrators, one still has to consider how sexual assaults beyond the male-on-female paradigm are to be labelled by the criminal law”.
“After the Right to Privacy ruling where consent and bodily integrity of each citizen is now a fundamental right as part of the freedoms and are intrinsic part of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21, female and male both have equality before the law and equal protection of the law under Article 14 guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution,” the petition said.Kumar also pointed out that for a brief period of 58 days, India had a gender-neutral rape law – The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 which was repealed after protests from certain quarters of the society.
The plea, also referred to the recent murder of a boy in Ryan International school in Gurgaon, allegedly by a 42- year-old man after he had resisted an attempt to sodomise him.
It said that boys under the age of 18 are protected under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), but once they pass the age, they “are robbed of their rights”.
(With PTI inputs)