Make Laws Relating To Rape, Sexual Harassment, Stalking, Outraging Modesty Gender-Neutral: PIL In SC

Make Laws Relating To Rape, Sexual Harassment, Stalking, Outraging Modesty Gender-Neutral: PIL In SC

Close on the heels of  the Supreme Court asking the Centre to examine if adultery law can be made gender-neutral, a fresh PIL has been filed in SC for making laws pertaining to rape, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, outraging the modesty etc also gender-neutral.

The petition filed by a Supreme Court lawyer Rishi Malhotra asks that the word "any man" used under these offences inIndian 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”, argues Malhotra.

The 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”,

“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.

"Sec.2 IPC defines and rather stipulates that every ‘person’ shall be liable to punishment under this Code and not otherwise for every act or omission contrary to the provisions thereof, of which he shall be guilty within India.Similarly, sec.3 IPC also again stipulates the use of word ‘any person’ for the offences committed outside India.Sec.8 IPC defines gender and categorically stipulates that the pronoun ‘he’ and its derivatives are used of any person, whether male or female. Sec.10 IPC however, defines ‘man’ to be a ‘male’ human being of any age whereas ‘woman’ to be a ‘female’ human being of any age".

According to the petitioner, 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.