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Nirbhaya Case (2014)

Nirbhaya Case (2014)

Introduction

  • On December 11,2012, a 23-year-old medic student was brutally gang- raped on a moving bus in India’s capital New Delhi by 5 men.
  • After the horrific assault she was thrown out of the bus at an isolated place. She succumbed to her injuries on December 29, 2012, at a hospital in Singapore.
  • The gruesome case shocked the entire nation’s conscience, made international headlines and exposed the scope of sexual violence against women in India, prompting lawmakers to stiffen penalties in rape cases.

Background

  • The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student whom the media dubbed “”Nirbhaya,” or “Fearless” because Indian law prohibits rape victims from being identified, was heading home with a male friend from a movie theatre when the six men lured them onto a bus at the Munirka bus stop in Delhi.
  • With no one else in sight, they beat the man with a metal bar, raped the woman and used the bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her.
  • The pair were dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later.

Judgement | Nirbhaya Case (2014)

  • All the six accused of the brutal crime ~ Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Singh, Ram Singh and the sixth a juvenile – were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder. One of the accused was a minor and appeared before a juvenile justice court where he was sentenced to three years of punishment in a reform home and released in 2015. Another accused – Ram Singh — allegedly committed suicide during his incarceration in Delhi’s Tihar jail.
  • The rest of the convicts are now facing the gallows. The Supreme Court had on May 5, 2017, upheld capital punishment given to the four men by the Delhi high court on March 1, 2014 and earlier by a fast track court in September 2013. In a voluminous judgement, the bench of the top court had held the attitude of offenders as “bestial proclivity”.
  • On July 9, 2018, the top court dismissed the review petitions filed by 3 convicts ~ Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24) – ruling that no ground was established by the accused for seeking a review of the death penalty.

How the Nirbhaya case changed Indian rape laws

  • On March 21, 2013, the rape law in the country was amended. The new tougher anti-rape law — Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 ~ to punish sex crimes redefined rape and made punishments more stringent — including death for repeat rape offenders.
  • SC also gave a new definition of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Code of Criminal Procedures, 1973.
  • Government set up “Nirbhaya fund’ with 1000 crores, to support women safety projects such as CCTV @public places, GPS-Emergency buttons in public vehicles, toll free numbers and defense classes.
  • Fund is non-lapsable. Although hardly any money spent so far.
  • Government announced setting up 660 rape crisis centres across India, called “Nirbhaya centres”. Funding from Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • But despite the stricter law, weak policing and investigation haven’t deterred rape, the fourth-most common crime against women in India, according to government statistics. In the absence of systemic and procedural reform, the law has failed to attain its primary objective, evident by the similarly brutal cases in recent weeks.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 | Nirbhaya Case (2014)

  • It amended as well as inserted new sections in the IPC with regard to various sexual offences. New offences like, acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking have been incorporated into the IPC.
  • It expands the definition of rape to include oral sex as well as the insertion of an object or any other body part into a woman’s vagina, urethra or anus.
  • The new amendment defines ‘consent’, to mean an unequivocal agreement to engage in a particular sexual act; clarifying further, that the absence of resistance will not imply consent.
  • One of the most notable omissions of the Act is its failure to criminalize marital rape. It is an exception to section 375, provided that the wife is not under 15 years of age.
  • Earlier the offence of rape (sexual assault) was gender neutral, while now this offence is women centric. Only a man is assumed to be capable of committing such offence and that too against a woman only. The aspect of gender neutrality was required in following aspects:
    • When a man or transgender person is raped.
    • In a few instances, even women have carried out sexual assaults against other women.
    • Nirbhaya Case (2014)

 

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