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Criminal Law and Women

Crimes Identified Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Obscenity

  • Sections 292, 293 & 294, Indian Penal Code, 1860
  • Section 67 of the Information Technology Act
  • Indecent representation of women (prohibition) Act, 1987.

Dowry Death

  • Sections 304-B, Indian Penal Code, 1860
  • Section 2, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  • Section 174, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  • Section 113-A, Evidence act, 1872.

Acid Attack

  • Section 326-A and 326-B, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (amendment 2013)
  • Section 357-B and 357-C, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Outraging the modesty of a women

  • Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • Section 509 Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Rape and Sexual Assault

  • Section 375, 376, 376-A-D Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Cruelty

  • Section 498 - A Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Domestic Violence.

  • Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Sections 12-29, Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Obscenity and Indecent Representation

  • Section 292(IPC) Sale, etc., of obscene books, etc,: A book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest.
  • Section 293(IPC) Sale, etc., of obscene books, etc, to young persons:  Whoever sells, lets to hire, distributes, exhibits or circulates to any person under the age of twenty years any such obscene object as is referred to in the last preceding section, or offers or attempts so to do, shall be punished 2[on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, and, in the event of a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and also with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees].
  • Section 294. Obscene acts and songs:  Whoever to the annoyance of others does any obscene act in public place, sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months or with fine or with both.
  • Section 67, Information Technology Act 2000:  It lays down the law that obscenity is an offence when it is published or transmitted or caused to be published in any electronic form.

Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1987

  • Under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1987, if an individual harasses another with books, photographs, paintings, films, pamphlets, packages, etc. containing the “indecent representation of women”, he/she is liable for a minimum sentence of 2 years.
  • Section-6 : Penalty- Any person who contravenes the provisions of section 3 (Prohibition of advertisements containing indecent representation of Women) or section 4 (Prohibition of publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc. containing indecent representation of women) shall be punishable on the first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, and with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment for term of not less than six months but which may extend to five years and also with a fine not less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to rupees one lakh.
  • Section -7 (offenses by Companies) further states that companies where any kind of “indecent representation of women”(such as the display of pornography takes place in the premises shall be deemed guilty of offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Procedure for Remedy - A person has to file a complaint in the nearest police station if any such offence occurs. The rest of the procedure shall be carried out in accordance with law.

Dowry Death

  • “Dowry” as defined under Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly by one party to the other at or before or at any time after marriage.
  • Demand for cash, gold, car or any other type of property is dowry.
  • Giving taking or demanding or even advertising for dowry is an offence.

Dowry Death and Procedural Laws:

  • Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is amended to secure. Postmortem in case of suicide or death of woman within seven years of her marriage.
  • Section 113-A has been introduced in the Evidence Act, 1872. (if the wife commits suicide within a period of seven years from the date of her marriage it will be presumed that she had been subjected to cruelty by her husband and his relatives as per sec.498-A, IPC.)

An offence called ‘dowry death’ has been created by introducing section 304 B in the Indian Penal Code.

  • Death of a women caused by any burns or bodily injury.
  • Does not occur under normal circumstances.
  • Within seven years of her marriage.
  • Soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband in connection with any demand for dowry.

Punishment is of at least 7 years which may even extend to life imprisonment.

Procedure for Remedy

  • Any person can make a complaint at the nearest police station.
  • The complaint can be made within ten years of marriage.
  • A metropolitan magistrate or a judicial magistrate of the first class may take cognizance of an offence under the act as per his own knowledge or on the basis of a police report or on a complaint received by the aggrieved person or a parent or a relative of the aggrieved person or by any recognized welfare institution or organization. (section-7).
  • Family court Act, 1984: All dowry related crimes except dowry deaths and burning of the bride will be tried by Family Courts.

Acid Attacks

  • Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code was amended on 2nd April, 2013 with the passing of the Criminal Law (amendment) Act, 2013. (The amendment resulted in insertion of sections 326-A and 326-B for specifically dealing with acid violence).
  • Section 326-A: Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and with fine. Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses of the treatment of the victim. Provided further that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.
  • Section 326-B: Whoever throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing permanent of partial damage or deformity of burns or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years, but which may extent to seven years and also be liable to fine.
  • Compensation for acid attack:Section 357-B has been newly inserted in Cr.P.C, which reads as, The Compensation payable by the State Government under section 357-A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under section 326-A or section 376-D of the Indian Penal Code.

Compensation for Women Victims / Survivors of Sexual  Assault / Other Crimes - 2018.

National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has formulated a compensation scheme detailed below:

S.no.

Particulars of loss or injury

Minimum Limit of Compensation

Maximum Limit of Compensation

1.

Gang Rape

Rs. 5 lakh

Rs. 10 lakh

2.

Rape

Rs. 4 lakh

Rs. 7 lakh

3.

Grievous physical injury or mental injury requiring rehabiliation

Rs. 1 lakh

Rs. 2 lakh

4.

Victims of acid attack

(a)

In case of disfigurement of face

Rs. 7 lakh

Rs. 8 lakh

(b)

In case of injury more than 50%

Rs. 5 lakh

Rs. 8 lakh

(c)

In case of injury less than 50%

Rs. 3 lakh

Rs. 5 lakh

(d)

In case of injury less than 20%

Rs. 3 lakh

Rs. 4 lakh

Supreme Court has clarified that the said scheme is to be used as guidelines by Special Courts in awarding compensation to minor victims of sexual abuse till Central Government prepares rules.

Who can make an application to Legal Services Authorities for Compensation?

  • Victim
  • Her Dependents
  • SHO of the area
  • Free Medical Treatment: Section 357-C states that all hospitals, (public or private), are required to provide first aid or medical treatment to the victim free of cost.

Procedure for Remedy: A person has to file a complaint immediately in the nearest police station about the acid attack upon a woman. The rest of the procedure shall be carried out in accordance with law.

Sexual Harassment and Outraging the Modesty of a Women

  • Modesty in section 354 IPC is an attribute associated with women. The act of pulling a women, removing her clothes with a request/ intent to cohabitation is considered to be an act of outraging her modesty.
  • Section 354: Assaulting a women or using criminal force on her with the intention of outraging her modesty- It implies that the assault must be on a women and that the accused must have used criminal force on her intending to outrage her modesty. The punishment is of at least one year which may extend to five years.
  • Section 354 A: Sexual Harassment:
    • The following acts or behavior shall constitute the offence of sexual harassment:
      • Any physical contact and advances involving  un welcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
      • A demand or request for sexual favors; or
      • Making sexually colored remarks; or
      • Forcibly showing pornography; or
      • Any other unwelcomed physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
    • Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with or with both.
    • Any person who commits the offence in clause (iii) or (iv) or (v) of sub-section 1 shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description that may extend to one year or with fine or both.
  • Section 354B: Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe: Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
  • Section 354C: Voyeurism : Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
    • Explanation I.— For the purpose of this section, "private act" includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where the victim's genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.
    • Explanation 2.— Where the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.
  • Section 354D: Stalking
    • Any man who
      • Follows a woman and contacts, or attempts. to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
      • Monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication;
      • Watches or spies on a person in a manner that results in a fear of violence or serious alarm or distress in the mind of such person, or interferes with the mental peace of such person commits the offence of stalking.
    • Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine'.
  • Section 509: Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a women: criminalizes uttering of any word or sound or gesture or exhibiting any object to a women with the intention that she sees or hears it or it intrudes her priacy with the intention of insulting her modesty.

Rape and Sexual Assault

  • When a men forces a women against her will to have sex with him it is termed as rape. Rape is a heinous crime but a women/girl does not want to report it to the police, because she feels:
    • People will think that she is a bad person and will hold her responsible for what has happened.
    • She feels that her family will get a bad name and nobody will believe her story.
    • However the law is very strict with regard to offences of rape and sexual assault.
    • Even a husband can be held guilty of rape of his wife who is less than fifteen years of age.
    • If a man has sex with a women/girl by pretending to be her husband, it is also rape.
  • Section 375, 376, 376 A-D of Indian Penal Code deals with Rape:
    • Section 376A.- Punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim: The offender shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, or with death.
    • Section 376B.- Sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation: The offender shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
    • Section 376C.- Sexual intercourse by person in authority: Authority includes a person in a position of authority or in a fiduciary relationship; or a public servant; or superintendent or manager of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force, or a women's or children's institution; or on the management of a hospital or being on the staff of a hospital. The offender in this case shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years, but which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
    • Gang rape. Section 376D.- The offender shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and with fine.
    • Punishment for repeat offenders. Section 376E - Repeated offenders shall be punished with imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, or with death.'

Procedure for Remedy

  • An FIR needs to be filed in the nearest police station.
  • Since 2013 (Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013), when any information is given by a women regarding Commission or attempt of sexual harassment, outraging her modesty or rape then such information shall be recorded, by a woman police officer or any woman officer.
  • Victim has a right to be represented by a lawyer from the beginning of the case, i.e. from lodging of an FIR at the police station till the final outcome of the case.
  • The doctor should cater to the medical needs of victim with utmost priority. No hospital can deny conducting medical legal checkup (M.L.C) of the victim who has come to the hospital without police referral.

Cruelty

The object behind penalizing this act was to prevent torture to a women by her husband or her relatives in connection with the demand of dowry. To ventilate the grievances about atrocities of newly married brides due to dowry or other such similar demands from their husbands or in laws, women social workers had taken up the cause in a movement in the country and due to the effective persuasion by social compulsions, section 498 A has been introduced in the Code of Law (Amendment) Act, 1983 to combat the menance of dowry deaths.

Definition:The definition of cruelty is given under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code 1860, according to which, whoever being the husband or the relative of the husband, subjects such women to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall be liable to fine.

Explanation- For this section cruelty means:

  • Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or t cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (weather mental or physical) of the woman; or
  • Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

Procedure for Remedy

A person or her relative have to file a complaint in the nearest police station of she is a victim of any such offence. The rest of the procedure shall be carried out in accordance with law. Subjects such women to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation- For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means-

  • Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or damage to life , limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
  • Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.

Domestic Violence

  • Act was passed in 2005 and was implemented from October, 2006.
  • The Act broadens the definition of Domestic Violence is under Section 3 of the Act cover the following kinds of abuses;
    • Physical abuse,
    • Sexual abuse
    • Verbal and emotional abuse and
    • Economic abuse
  • The Act broadens the definition of domestic relationships by including mothers, wives, sister-in-laws, daughters, and daughter-in-laws. Beneficiaries under the Act are:
    • Women,
    • Children and
    • Respondent
  • PWDVA recognizes a life free of violence and fear and makes the state responsible for extending protection against domestic violence to women.
  • PWDVA seeks to protect women from all forms of domestic violence and check harassment and exploitation by family members or relatives.
  • The first and immediate consequence, if a woman files complaints against DV is dispossession-through the woman out of the house and taking custody of children.
  • PWDVA empowers a woman to claim immediate maintenance and compensation.
  • Right granted to women under the domestic violence Act:
    • Right to reside in a shared household
    • Right to issuance of Orders
    • Protection Orders
    • Residence Orders
    • Monetary relief
    • Custody orders
    • Compensation orders
    • Interim and Ex parte Orders
    • Right to obtain relief granted by other suits and legal proceedings.

Liabilities and Restrictions imposed upon the Respondent

  • He can be subjected to certain restrictions as contained in the Protection and Residence order issued against him.
  • The respondent can be made accountable for providing monetary relief to the aggrieved person and her children and pay compensation damages as directed in the Compensation order.
  • He has to follow the arrangement\s made by the court regarding the custody of the child or children of the aggrieved person as specified in the Custody order.
  • The Act does not permit any female relative of the husband or male partner to file a complaint against the wife or female partner.

Procedure of filing complaint and the Court's Duty (Sections 12-29)

  • The aggrieved person or any other witness of the offence can approach a Police officer, Protection Officers or Service Provider or Magistrate.
  • The Magistrate shall give a notice of the date of hearing to the Protection officers within a maximum period of 2 days or such further reasonable time as allowed by the Magistrate.
  • The court is required to dispose of the case within 60 days of the first hearing.
  • Upon finding the complaint to be genuine, the Magistrate may, direct the respondent or the aggrieved person, either singly or jointly, to undergo counseling.
  • Direct that the women shall not be evicted or excluded from the household or any part of it.
  • Pass a protection order, providing protection to the women which shall remain in force till the aggrieved person applies for discharge.
  • Grant monetary relief to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person and any child of the aggrieved person due to domestic violence.
  • Grant custody orders of any child or children of aggrieved person.
  • Compensation/damages for the injuries including mental torture and emotional distress caused by domestic violence. If upon receipt of an application from the aggrieved person, the Magistrate is satisfied that the circumstances so require, he may alter, modify or revoke an order after recording the reasons in writing.
  • A complaint can also be filed under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code.

Trafficking of Woman

  • Trafficking in women and children includes placing them in conditions of forced labour and forced sex.
  • The recruiters and traffickers who force a women and child into sexually or economically oppressive and exploitative situation as well as other illegal activities such as false marriages, false adoption, domestic labour and all kinds of illegal employment.
  • Section 366-A, IPC: Procreation of minor girl- Whoever, by any means whatsoever, induces any minor girl under the age of eighteen years to go from any place or to do any act with intent that such girl may be, or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

  • Trafficking of the women generally starts on the promise of job or marriage by which recruiters entice  the victims to leave home.
  • Further, the village girls and their families are often deceived by the agents.

Procedure for Remedy

  • The first thing that the victim has to do is to file an FIR in the nearest police station. The complainant of sexual assault has a right to be represented by a lawyer from the beginning of the case, from lodging of an F.I.R. at police station till the final outcome of the case.
  • If the officer in- charge of the police station refuses to register F.I.R., then the victim can meet or send a copy of the complaint in writing to the deputy commissioner of police or the Superintendent of Police. If action is still not taken, then she can file the complaint before the magistrate within whose jurisdiction the police station falls. The doctor should cater the medical needs of victim with utmost priority. No hospital can deny conducting medical legal checkup (M.L.C.) of the victim who has come to hospital without police referral.

Honour Killing

  • Honor killing or shame killing is the homicide of a member of a family by other members, due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion, usually for reasons such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their family, having sex outside marriage, becoming the victim of rape, dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate, engaging in non-heterosexual relations or renouncing a faith.
  • In Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2006), the Supreme Court opined that “There is nothing honourable in honor killings and they are wholly illegal”.
  • The Honble Supreme Court in the case of Shakti Vahini v. Union of India (2018), ruled that it was illegal for so called khap panchayats, or assemblies of village elders, to interfere in marriage between two consenting adults, and to summon and punish them.

Procedure for Remedy: File a complaint in the nearest police station.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

  • The Act was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process. The framing of the Act seeks to put children first by making it easy to use by including mechanisms for child friendly reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts. The Act makes abetment of child sexual abuse an offence.
  • Offences under the act include:
    • Penetrative Sexual Assault: Insertion of penis / object / another body part in child's vagina/urethra/anus/mouth, or asking the child to do so with them or some other person.
    • Sexual Assault: When a person touches the child, or makes the child touch them or someone else
    • Sexual Harassment: passing sexually coloured remark, sexual gesture/noise, repeatedly following, flashing, etc.
    • Child Pornography: With respect to pornography, the Act criminalizes even watching or collection of pornographic content involving children.
    • Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault/ Aggravated Sexual Assault.
  • Gender Neutral Law: The Act is gender-neutral.
  • Child-friendly process: It also provides for various procedural reforms, making the process of trial considerably easier for children.
  • Child Welfare Committee (CWC): Police officer is duty bound to inform the CWC about every case under the Act within 24 hours. CWC can appoint a support person for the child who will be responsible for psychosocial well being of the child. This support person will also liaise with the police, and keep the child and child's family informed about progress in the case.

Procedure for Remedy: Anyone including a child (anyone below 18 years of age) can report an offence to Special Juvenile Police Unit/Local police.

Source: National Commission for Women



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