SC refuses to hear plea seeking gender-neutral rape law; petition says Sec 375 of IPC excludes rape of men, transgenders

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking to amend India's law on rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to make it gender neutral. The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul dismissed the petition by NGO Criminal Justice Society of India, saying the issue is "entirely in Parliament's domain", LiveLaw reported.

"We are not inclined to interfere at this stage," the chief justice said, according to ANI, "Parliament has to take a call in the issue."

The NGO sought to have declared that Section 375 violates articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India as the way it defines rape does not take gender-neutrality into account. The petition emphasised the need to "breaking our silence" on the rape of men and transgender people and question stereotypes that "force them to mask their feelings".

Section 375 of the IPC defines what would constitute a rape if "a man" has forceful sexual intercourse with a woman under specific circumstances.

"It is imperative to note that transgenders including but not limited to homosexuals and bisexuals, and men are sequestered from the point of view of victims of rape under the existing penal laws of the country, despite an impending need for the same," the plea added. "As society matures, we must develop empathy for all, and this includes male and transgender rape victims."

SC refuses to hear plea seeking gender-neutral rape law; petition says Sec 375 of IPC excludes rape of men, transgenders

File image of the Supreme Court of India. AP

The NGO's plea also highlighted that in 2012, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, was introduced in Lok Sabha, proposing to modify Section 375 of the IPC by providing a gender-neutral definition of rape for both the victim and perpetrator. The petition asserted that criminal law should recognise that both men and women can be raped and that the definition of rape should not be restricted to the "penile-vaginal" form of sexual acts.

"Section 375 applies only to women as victims and men as perpetrators. It does not take into account non-consensual sexual assault inflicted on a woman by a woman, on a man by another man, on transgender by another transgender or a man or woman, on a man by a woman," it said.

In February, too, the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition seeking to have declared rape, sexual assault, "outraging of modesty", voyeurism and stalking in the IPC gender-neutral, saying the law was open for change by Parliament.

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Updated Date: Nov 12, 2018 11:59:29 IST

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