Death Penalty for Rape: Karnataka HC
Observing that an attack on anybody’s daughter is an attack on ‘our own daughter’, the division bench made this suggestion keeping in mind the issue of women’s safety, to curb this menace in the society, as rape is a ‘crime against the entire society’ and not just the victim.
On October 21, 2020 the Karnataka High Court through its Division Bench of Justices B Veerappa and K Natrajan have recommended an amendment to section 376D of the Indian Penal Code to provide Capital Punishment for the offence of gang-rape in the case of Ramu and Ors v State of Karnataka (Crl. App. No. 246 of 2014). Advocate A.V. Raghavendra appeared for the appellants and Advocate Vijayakumar Majage represented the Respondent State.
The Division Bench noted that that although the Indian Penal Code was enacted by the Act 45 of 1860, women do not feel safe at the hands of rapists/violators of law even after the lapse of 74 years of independence. They said, “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.”
It added that “Rape is not only an offence against 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.”
They expressed their concern by remarking that even after enacting stringent laws, women safety continues to remain a concerning issue. “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”, they said.
The Bench also quoted Mahatma Gandhi and said, “We want to send a strong message to the society by reminding ourselves, the famous quote of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, immediately after independence that, The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night that day we can say that India has achieved independence.” They continued to express their anguish by addressing themselves as “societal parents”. They noted, “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 own daughter.”
The court went further, “A child should be taught to respect women in the 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.”
The Division Bench also recommended some reforms in the society though television and other digital mediums. “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”, the bench said. 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”, said the Bench.
The Hon’ble Karnataka High court was hearing an appeal filed by the appellants/co accused against the impugned judgment passed by the trial court awarding them life imprisonment for gang rape, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, kidnapping, mischief, criminal intimidation under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. It was alleged by the Prosecutrix that on October 13, 2012 near a road which is situated between Bangalore University Main Building and National Law School of India University, the victim and her friend were talking to each other in a parked car belonging when 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. It was further submitted that they forcibly opened the left front door of the car and dragged the victim girl into the forest area and forcibly committed gang rape.
The court further noted that, “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 are worse than cruel animals, and cannot be tolerated. It is a solitary incident of a ghastly crime, which has raised a question mark on the safety of all.”
While upholding the Trial Court’s decision, the Karnataka High Court also emphasized on the appropriate punishment. “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”, the Bench said.
It also added that the “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.” They opined on strict punishment and said that, “Since the reputation of the Country is at stake, no leniency can be shown to the accused persons. Any misplaced sympathy to the accused comes in the way of upholding dignity of the court, majesty of law, traditions and cultures right from our ancient times.”
The Bench justified the punishment imposed by taking cognizance of the traumatic incident the prosecutrix was subject to. “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.”
Finally, the court concluded by appreciating the courage of the prosecutrix to come forward with her account of the incident that happened in 2012 and appealed to the general Indian public to support rape survivors to ensure them a life of dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Courtesy : Sabrang