The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre’s response on a PIL challenging the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, in which a penal provision - minimum of seven years of jail term - for a rape convict was included and the court’s discretion to award less that that was taken away.
A joint petition was filed by social activist Madhu Purnima Kishwar, a Tihar jail prisoner and wife of another accused before the high court, alleging that the amendment to Section 375 and 376 (rape and sentence) under IPC is “discriminatory and arbitrary”.
It cited data of rape cases given by the Delhi Commission for Women after the amendment in 2013 and it was alleged that the law has been misused widely.
A bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini issued notice to the Centre and sought its reply by July 5. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Advocaate Shivanshu Singh appeared for the petitioners
The petitioners said the law had not been judiciously crafted and that it was misused widely and in most of the cases complaints were lodged to take revenge.
“The failure of the Act 2013 to provide a gradation of offences and punishments, given that a wide variety of acts have now been brought within the definition of rape, coupled with the creation of stringent mandatory minimum punishment of seven years’ imprisonment, plainly violates Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution…,” the petition said.
A large number of independently unverifiable cases and even perfectly consensual acts will now be counted as rape.
Based on the Justice JS Verma Commission report, the government had brought amendment to the rape law, making punishment stringent for the convicts and also increased the age to consent for sex from 16 to 18 years.
Read the petition here.