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(Apr 09, 2013) On April 2, 2013, India's President, Pranab Mukherjee, signed an anti-rape bill into law. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was approved by the country's Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), on March 21. Presidential assent to the bill occurred just two days before the Cabinet's Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance of February 3 on the subject was due to lapse. (President Gives His Assent to Anti-Rape Bill, THE TIMES OF INDIA (Apr. 4, 2013); for information on the Ordinance, see Wendy Zeldin, India: Crime of Sexual Assault Penalized, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Feb. 11, 2013).)

The new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (Act No. 13 of 2013 (Apr. 2, 2013), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India website) amends sections of:

Under the Amendment Act:

  • the act of rape is newly described with the use of very specific physical terminology, but in contrast to the Ordinance, the amended provision on rape is kept as a gender-specific crime, only committed by men (Amendment Act § 9, Penal Code, § 375);
  • the punishment on conviction of rape is in general from seven years to life imprisonment and a fine, but if certain circumstances apply (e.g., rapes committed by police officers or public servants of women in their custody; rapes by a relative, guardian, or teacher of a woman vis a vis whom they are in a position of trust or authority; or rapes against women under the age of 16) the punishment upon conviction will be from ten years to life imprisonment and liability to a fine (Amendment Act § 9, Penal Code § 376); capital punishment may be applied to a rapist if the act causes the victim's death or leaves her in a permanent vegetative state, otherwise the applicable penalty will in general be seven years to life imprisonment (Amendment Act § 9, Penal Code § 376A);
  • gang rape is punishable with a prison term of from 20 years to life (meaning the remainder of the offender's natural life) and a fine (Amendment Act § 9, Penal Code § 376D);
  • a new offense of sexual harassment is inserted as section 354A of the Indian Penal Code (Amendment Act § 7);
  • for the first time, voyeurism and stalking are defined as offenses (Amendment Act § 7, Penal Code §§ 354C & 354D);
  • a punishment ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment and liability to a fine will be imposed on those convicted of trafficking a minor, and if more than one minor is involved, the applicable sentence will be 14 years' imprisonment, extendable to life imprisonment, and liability to a fine (Amendment Act § 8, Penal Code § 370(4) & (5));
  • the punishment for an acid attack that causes harm to the victim will be a minimum term of 10 years' imprisonment, extendable to a life term, while conviction on voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid with the intention of causing damage will incur a penalty of five to seven years (Amendment Act § 5, Penal Code §§ 362A & 362B);
  • public servants who knowingly disobey legal provisions regulating the manner in which they are to conduct an investigation into an offense or who fail to record information given to them under relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure may be subject to a punishment of from six months to two years of imprisonment and a fine (Amendment Act § 3; Penal Code § 166A); and
  • persons in charge of public or private hospitals will be subject to a prison term of up to one year and/or a fine for non-treatment of victims (Amendment Act § 3, Penal Code § 166B).

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Crime and law enforcement More on this topic
Jurisdiction: India More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 04/09/2013