31 May 2023 1:15 PM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has recommended the Central Government to amend the provisions of Indian Penal Code or bring in new one, for criminalising sexual intercourse with dead bodies. A division bench Justice B Veerappa and Justice Venkatesh Naik T observed, “It is the high time for the Central Government in order to maintain right to dignity of the dead person/woman to amend...
The Karnataka High Court has recommended the Central Government to amend the provisions of Indian Penal Code or bring in new one, for criminalising sexual intercourse with dead bodies.
A division bench Justice B Veerappa and Justice Venkatesh Naik T observed,
“It is the high time for the Central Government in order to maintain right to dignity of the dead person/woman to amend the provisions of Section 377 of IPC should include dead body of any men, woman or animal or to introduce a separate provision as offence against dead woman as necrophilia or sadism as has been done in United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, to ensure dignity of the dead person including woman.”
Further it has suggested that the amended or the new provision should attract punishment with imprisonment of life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also shall be liable for fine.
The recommendations were made after Court observed that "most of the government and private hospitals where the dead bodies, especially young women kept in mortuary, the attendant who was appointed to guard, have sexual intercourse on the dead body." However unfortunately, it said, there is no specific legislation in India for protecting the rights and crime against dead bodies.
The Court expressed the view that sexual intercourse with the dead body is an unnatural offence as defined under Section 377 of IPC, which defines whoever voluntarily has carnal inter-course "against the order of nature" with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished. However, it goes unpunished since the provision does not include the term 'dead body”.
“Thereby most of the crimes against woman on the dead body including hospital mortuaries happening and it can be considered as sadism or necrophilia and there is no offence in the IPC made out to punish such persons who committed sexual intercourse on the dead body.”
Thus, the Court has suggested the State Government to ensure installation of CCTV cameras in the mortuaries of all the government and private hospitals in order to prevent the offence against dead bodies, within six months. Further, it has asked the State Government to maintain following mortuary services:
a) Mortuary hygiene: Regular mopping and cleaning of the mortuary should be undertaken so that dead body remains are preserved in a proper, clean environment, thereby maintaining its dignity.
b) Secured information: The facility should maintain confidentiality of clinical records and must have a mechanism for guarding information related to the deceased, especially for cases that are stigmatized and socially criticised, such as that of HIV and suicidal cases.
c) Maintaining privacy of premises: Post mortem rooms should not come under the direct line of sight of the general public/visitors. To ensure the same, provision of curtain, screen or buffer area may be made in a post mortem room.
d) Removing physical/ infrastructural barriers: The facility must have infrastructure for delivery of assured services, to meet the prescribed norms. All basic requirements must be available and maintained as per the Indian Public Health Standard Guidelines for District Hospitals for management of the dead bodies.
e) Sensitization of the staff: The mortuary administration may sensitise the staff from time to time to train them in handling of the dead body and deal with the attendants of the deceased with sensitivity.
The recommendations were made while partly allowing the appeal filed by a person convicted for murdering and then committing rape over the dead body of the 21-year old girl. The court upheld the life imprisonment imposed on him for murdering a 21-year on girl and set aside the conviction handed down for charge of rape.
The bench said “The accused is hereby acquitted under the provisions of Section 376 of IPC for committing the rape on the victim-dead body as there is no provision in the IPC to punish him for the said offence.”
Case Title: Rangaraju @ Vajapeyi And State of Karnataka
Case No: CRIMINAL APPEAL No.1610/2017
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 197
Date of Order: 30-05-2023
Appearance: Advocate Hanumantharaya C H a/w Advocates Abhinaya K, K V Manoh for petitioner.
Amicus Curiae Nithin Ramesh
SPP Kiran S Javali a/w Advocate Vijaykumar Majage for respondent.
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