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SC Dismisses PIL To Make Rape, Sexual Harassment, Stalking, Outraging Modesty Gender-Neutral

Terming it as an “imaginative petition”, the Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL for making laws pertaining to rape, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, outraging the modesty etc gender-neutral.

The plea filed by a SC lawyer Rishi Malhotra had come close on the heels of the Supreme Court, on a similar petition asking the Centre to examine if adultery law can be made gender-neutral.

“These are affirmative provisions for the protection of women and in their favour. We cannot agree with your argument. This appears to us like an imaginative petition.Actually these are valid classification”, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra told Malhotra.

Malhotra argued that the word “any man” used under these offences inn Indian Penal Code be declared ultravires the Constitution.

“Crime has no gender and neither should our laws.  Women commit crime for the same reasons that men do.  The law does not and should not distinguish between criminals and every person who has committed an offence is liable to punishment under the Code”, argued Malhotra.

Justice DY Chandrachud and CJI told Malhotra that even otherwise amending a legislation was the job of the parliament.”it’s up to the parliament. We cannot direct the parliament to collect data regarding it”.

“We are not saying a woman cannot rape a man but these come under a different offence under IPC”, CJI Misra said.

“Even if we feel  the legislation should have been gender-neutral what we feel is legislature would have acted as per what was the urgent requirement”, Justice Chandrachud said.

“The instant petition under Article 32 of the Constitution seeks to challenge the constitutional validity of sec.354 IPC, sec.354A IPC, sec.354B IPC, sec.354C IPC, sec.354D IPC and also sec.375 IPC which stipulates discrimination against any citizen on the ground of sex and which inturn is directly in teeth and in violation of Article 14 and Article 15 of the Constitution”, says the petition.

“A glance on the above-mentioned sections would demonstrate categorically that it is presumed that all offences under the said sections would always be committed by an accused who happens to be a ‘man’ and the victim would always be a ‘woman’”, he says.

‘WOMEN TOO COMMIT RAPE’

Says the petition:- “In a recent study it was found that out of 222 Indian men surveyed, 16.1% had been coerced into having sex. Despite rape of men not researched as widely as rape of female, there are several statistics to suggest that men are raped and the prevalence of men rape is wider than is generally presumed.”

Malhotra argues that Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

“Crimes like rape and murder do not see age, caste or even gender or sexual orientation. Rape is seen across the extremes of age, sex and geographical boundaries. Thus, it is only the development and application of a gender neutral law that will be effective in improving the reporting and registering of such crimes,” the PIL says.

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