Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012

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The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012

Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 4, 2012, further to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Indian Evidence Act 1872.

Amendment to the Indian Penal Code, 1860

Three new offences are introduced to the Penal Code (IPC) under this Bill.

  • Public Servant disobeying directions under law

Introduced a new section 166 A in order to regulate the conduct of a Public Servant (a) knowingly disobeys any direction of the law which prohibits him from requiring the attendance at any place of any person for the purpose of investigation into an offence or any other matter, or (b) knowingly disobeys, to the prejudice of any person, any other direction of the law regulating the manner in which he shall conduct such investigation. Further, Bill imposes penalty for any Public Servant who falls within the purview of this Section with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

  • Hurt by Acid Attack

Under section 326 A Bill introduces an Offence Hurt by Acid Attack. Under this section, Whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or administering acid to that person, with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may be for life and with fine which may extend to Ten Lakh Rupees.

Further, by introducing a new Section 326 B, Bill penalizes whoever, makes an attempt or administer any such acid attack, with imprisonment for a period which shall not be less than five years but which may extend up to seven years. The same shall also attract fine.

For the purposes of sections 326A and 326B,acid” includes any substance, which has acidic or corrosive character, or burning nature that is capable of causing bodily injury leading to scars or disfigurement or temporary or permanent disability.

  • Sexual Assault

Bill replaces the existing offence of Rape (sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C and 376D) with that of Sexual Assault. At present the offence of Rape is defined under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code as “sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent”. The Bill under section 375 intends to criminalize following acts of (a) penetration of a person’s vagina, anus, urethra or mouth with any part of the body including the penis, or any other object for a sexual purpose; (b) manipulation of a body part of another person so as to cause penetration of the vagina, anus, urethra or mouth by any part of the other person’s body; (c) cunnilingus and fellatio; committed without the consent of the other person.

Bill under section 376 retains the punishment prescribed under the provisions of Indian Penal Code. However, it takes away the power of the courts to commute/reduce the sentence.

Bill increases the age of consent from 16 years to 18 years under the description six of section 375, thereby it penalizes the commission of the acts mentioned under section 375, if the person is below 18 years of age, irrespective of whether the acts were committed with consent. Further, Bill provides a punishment of a minimum of seven years and a maximum of life imprisonment for sexual assault by a husband upon his wife below 16 years of age.

Further, Bill amends section 354 of the Penal Code (IPC) so as to substitute the words, “shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both” with “shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term of one year which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine which may not be less than one thousand rupees”. Bill also amends section 509 so as to substitute the words “shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both” with “shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may not be less than one thousand rupees”.

Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Bill amends section 154 so as to so as to insert following proviso after sub-section (1) namely; “Provided that if the information is given by the woman against whom an offence under section 354, section 375, section 376, section 376A, section 376B and section 509 of the Indian Penal Code is alleged to have been committed or attempted, then such information shall be recorded, as far as possible, by a woman police officer.”

Further, Bill amends section 160, so as to substitute the words “under the age of fifteen years” in sub-section (1), in the proviso, with “under the age of eighteen years or above the age of sixty-five years”.

Besides, Bill inserted a proviso “Provided that where the evidence of a person below the age of eighteen years who is alleged to have been subjected to sexual assault or any other sexual offence, is to be recorded, the court may take appropriate measures to ensure that such person is not confronted by the accused while at the same time ensuring the right of cross-examination of the accuse.”, before the Explanation given to section 273.

In section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in sub-section (2), for the words, figures and letters “trial of rape or an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D of the Indian Penal Code”, the words, figures and letters “trial of sexual assault or an offence under section 376, section 376A or section 376B of the Indian Penal Code” shall be substituted according to the Bill. Bill also made amendments to First Schedule to the Code of Criminal Procedure, under the heading “OFFENCES UNDER THE INDIAN PENAL CODE”.

Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Following are the major amendments proposed to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

  • Evidence of character or previous sexual Experience not relevant in certain cases

Bill introduced a new section 53 A. It read as follows; “In a prosecution for an offence under section 376 or section 376A or section 376B of the Indian Penal Code or for attempt to commit any such offence, where the question of consent is in issue, evidence of the character of the victim or of his or her previous sexual experience with any person shall not be relevant on the issue of such consent or the quality of consent.”

  • Presumption as to the absence of consent in certain prosecution for sexual assault

Bill substituted the existing provisions under section 114 A with “In a prosecution for sexual assault under clause (a) or clause (b) or clause (c) or clause (d) or clause (e) or clause (g) or clause (h) or clause (i) or clause (j) or clause (k) or clause (l) of sub-section (2) of section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the other person alleged to have been sexually assaulted and such other person states in that person’s evidence before the court that she or he did not consent, the court shall presume that she or he did not consent.

Further, it was explained that, “sexual intercourse” under this section shall mean any of the acts mentioned in clauses (a) to (c) of section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

  • Further, in section 146 of the Evidence Act, for the proviso, the following proviso shall be substituted, namelyProvided that in a prosecution for an offence under section 376 or section 376A or section 376B of the Indian Penal Code or for attempt to commit any such offence, where the question of consent is in issue, it shall not be permissible to adduce evidence or to put questions in the cross-examination of the victim as to his or her general immoral character, or as to his or her previous sexual experience with any person for proving such consent or the quality of consent”.

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