Union Government Proposes Stringent Punishments in new bill for Crimes Against Women: Highlights of the New Legislation
The Union government tabled a comprehensive bill on Friday aimed at overhauling the existing Indian Penal Code (IPC) with the intention of making punishments for crimes against women more severe. The proposed bill brings to the forefront the need for enhanced legal measures to address gender-based violence and protect the rights of women in India.
Strengthening Punishments for Heinous Crimes: Death Penalty for Gang Rape of Minors
A key provision of the proposed legislation is the provision for imposing the death penalty as the maximum punishment for the gang rape of a minor. The bill seeks to replace the British-era IPC and envisions stricter penalties to deter such heinous acts. For gang rape cases involving a girl under the age of 18, the bill prescribes either life imprisonment, which entails incarceration for the remainder of the offender’s natural life, or the possibility of capital punishment.
Combating Deceptive Practices: Introducing a New Offence
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, also introduces a distinct offence to address cases where women are tricked into sexual intercourse under false pretenses, such as promises of marriage or inducements like job offers or promotions. Section 69 of the bill details this new provision, stating that individuals who engage in such deceitful practices shall face imprisonment of up to ten years and may also be fined. The inclusion of this provision acknowledges the importance of informed consent in sexual relationships and seeks to prevent manipulative behavior.
Reforming Age Subclassifications and Immunity for Husbands
The proposed legislation does away with the age subclassifications under which the IPC classified gang rape cases involving minors. Instead, the bill establishes that gang rape against a girl under 18 years of age will be subject to capital punishment for all involved. Additionally, in alignment with a 2017 Supreme Court judgment, the bill increases the minimum age of a wife for granting immunity to her husband from charges of rape. The Supreme Court had held that immunity would only be applicable if the wife is not younger than 18 years, addressing concerns about the vulnerability of young brides.
Modernization and Decriminalization: Scrapping Section 377
The bill also marks a significant step towards modernization by repealing Section 377 of the IPC, which previously criminalized homosexuality and subjected individuals engaging in consensual same-sex relationships to punitive measures, including life imprisonment. This move aligns with the Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 judgment that decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults and acknowledges the importance of individual autonomy and freedom of choice.
While many provisions of the IPC remain unchanged under the new legislation, the proposed bill reflects a commitment to addressing issues of gender-based violence and promoting gender equality in India. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has announced that the bill will be sent to a parliamentary panel for scrutiny, reflecting the government’s desire to ensure comprehensive and well-informed legislation that serves the best interests of all citizens.
The proposed changes signal a progressive shift towards a more just and equitable legal framework, reinforcing the commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of women and marginalized communities across the country.
The unveiling of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, marks a significant stride towards a more stringent and contemporary legal framework aimed at safeguarding the rights and dignity of women in India. As India moves towards a more inclusive and forward-thinking legal landscape, the proposed legislation not only addresses immediate concerns but also sends a strong message of empowerment and protection to women and vulnerable groups.