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This article is written by Amandeep Kaur, a student of Symbiosis Law School, Pune. The author in this article has discussed the Shakti Mills Gang Rape Case.

Facts of the case

The State of Maharashtra v. Vijay Mohan Jadhav and Ors. 2013

On 22 August 2013 at about 5 pm the victim, who was a Photojournalist aged 22, and was interning under the English Magazine went to the premises of Shakti Mills along with her colleague namely Anurag for a project which involved capturing old articles and deserted premises of Mumbai.

There they encountered Vijay Jadhav and Salim who were later identified as accused. Both of them initially helped the victim and his colleague to enter the premises of Shakti Mills but later called their partners i.e. the other three accused, one of them was a juvenile and tied Anurag and dragged the victim to an isolated room where they one by one brutally raped the victim and also took her photographs for threatening her that if she complains about them, they will circulate those photographs. This case is also called the Mumbai Gang Rape case of 2013.   

Issues

  1. Whether the accused are liable for disrobing the victim?
  2. Whether the accused can be held liable for committing unnatural acts?
  3. Whether the accused can be held liable for raping a woman?

Rules

 

  • Section 354B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

 

Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobeAny man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

  1.   Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Unnatural offencesWhoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

  1.   Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Gang rapeWhere a woman is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and with fine.

  • Provided that such fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim.
  • Further, provided that any fine imposed under this section shall be paid to the victim.

Analysis

Disrobing a woman according to Sec 354B of IPC

Disrobing means forcing the woman to be naked. In the present case if this judgment is interpreted the accused forced her to be disrobed and later raped her which does amount to an offence both under Section 354 and 375. They forced the victim by keeping a broken glass bottle on her neck and threatening her that they will kill her if she does not remove all her clothes along with her shoes. One of the accused himself removed her underwear and bra. 

In the majority of the cases, disrobing is done with an intention either to rape the victim or with an attempt to rape. It can be found in the case of Mukesh and Ors. v. State for NCT of Delhi and Ors. [2] where the gang forcibly disrobed the victim and then committed the brutal offence of raping her and then leading her to death. Even in the case of Dalveer v. State of U.P.[3] the victim was disrobed first and then raped by the accused. The present case is also an example of disrobing and then raping the victim.

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Unnatural offences according to Section 377 of IPC

Unnatural offences here means which are against the order of nature for instance- anal sex or sodomy which is usually present in a majority of the rape cases. In the case of Sanil Kumar v. State of Kerala and Ors.[4] the accused who promised the victim to marry her committed rape which included unnatural offences too. In the case of  Raju v. State of Haryana[5] the appellant was found guilty of committing sodomy upon a female of nine years and sentenced to three years imprisonment, considering the nature of offence and age of the appellant, the court ordered the authorities to keep the accused in an institution rather than imprisoning him in a cell so that the accused can regret and consider what he did and it is to be considered as adequate punishment which can be given under such circumstances.

Unnatural offences existed in both the Mughal and British era. Moreover, at that time there was no legislation which criminalized unnatural acts. It was during the British period that such acts were penalised. This theory of criminalizing unnatural acts was based on morals and ethical standards of Judeo-Christian. The legislation which criminalized unnatural acts can still be seen under section-377 of IPC and is now a part of Indian morals and values.[6] 

Even in the famous Nirbhaya case i.e. State vs. Ram Singh and anr., the deceased Jyoti Singh faced the brutish behaviour of the accused of being forced to have anal sex, the accused inserted iron rod to her private parts and anal region which ultimately led to the death of the deceased.[7] In the present case of Shakti mills, the victim was assaulted by the five rapists who did vaginal, anal and oral penetration with her and also showed her pornographic clips and forced her to perform accordingly. The accused Mohd. Salim, Mohd. Siraj and  Vijay ravished her by doing unnatural sex with her. Not only this after having raped her once accused Mohd. Kasim again came to rape her but when the victim requested that she is already suffering pain and to let her go he forcefully started having unnatural sex with her.

Gang rape according to Sec 376D of IPC

As the section clearly reflects when a woman is raped by two or more persons it is called as gang rape. Gang rapes are considered as the most brutal behaviour one can see in a human being against another human being. India has witnessed a huge number of gang rapes some of which were highlighted by the media leading into high-profile cases whereas some weren’t given any attention. 

In the case of Bhupinder Sharma v. State of Himachal Pradesh,[8] the Supreme Court held the appellant who was one of the accomplices of gang rape, guilty under section-376(2) of IPC even though he, unlike other members of the group, could not sexually assault the victim as she escaped from the place of incident before he could execute the act. However, the trial court convicted and ordered him, without giving any adequate and special reasons, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years while it sentenced the penetrators of actual rape to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years. 

The Supreme Court, in the case of  Priya Patel v. State of Madhya Pradesh, ruled out that every member of such a group, acting in furtherance of the common intention of the group, by virtue of the deeming explanation, per se deserves the minimum sentence stipulated in section 376(2). [9] In the case of Saleem and Ors. v. State, [10] which is a recent case, decided on 16-07-2018 the father and the brother of the victim were charged for committing gang rape on her. But later it was found by the court that one of the accused which is brother of the victim was below the age of 18 during the time of the incident and has already served more than 3years of imprisonment till the date of decision and was therefore released whereas the other accused was given punishment according to the section. 

In the case of Jyotish Bhowmick and Ors. v. The State of West Bengal[11] the High Court ruled out that mere absence of injuries on the back of the victim or absence of sperms in the vaginal swab which may have occurred due to the delayed examination of the vaginal swab or the bathing of the victim prior to the medical examination does not in condition can be considered in the favor of the appellants and could not go against the victim that she was forcibly gang raped by the appellants. In the present case, the victim was harshly gang raped by 5 accused one by one which was medically proved by the doctors and her colleague who was with her at the time of the incident.

Judgment given 

In this case, it was ruled out that all the accused were liable for several offences including gang rape, disrobing and unnatural offences. Three of the accused who were adults were hanged till death whereas the minor one was tried by the Juvenile Justice Board and was convicted on 15 July 2015, and sentenced to three years (including time in custody) in a Nashik reform school, the maximum punishment that a juvenile offender can receive under Indian law. 

Rarest of Rare case

This case was described as the ‘rarest of rare’ case after the formula evolved by the first landmark decision on the point which summarizes the law on the question of capital punishment in Bachan Singh V State of Punjab[12] in which the Apex court has upheld the Constitutional validity of the death penalty for the first time. It was the first time in the country that rape convicts have been sentenced to death under this section that was brought in by the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013 after the brutal Delhi gang-rape case also known as Nirbhaya gang-rape case. 

The judgement and the punishment, in my opinion, are morally just and will help in the deterrence of crime in the future. Such a judgement would instil fear in the minds of rapists, which would prevent the happening of such a crime in the future, which in turn would protect the innocent. A few years back after a couple of High Courts allowed mediation to take place between the Rape Victim and the accused, the Supreme Court in the case of State of M.P. v. Madanlal in a strong-worded judgment held that in a case of rape or attempt to rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can be really thought of. [13]

Conclusion 

Rape not only leaves a scar on the mind of the victim but also makes her life a hell to live. The judgment leaves a twofold impact: 

  • It gave justice to the victim who will have to live with the fact of having been raped, forever. 
  • It ensured that the criminal got appropriate punishment for not only indulging in the heinous crime once but several times. Such an inhuman person is of no use to society and they only are danger and burden for the society. 

The judgement given in the present case sent a positive message to the public who were losing faith in this regard, this judgement somewhat restored the faith of the common masses in the system and sent a message that whoever commits rape will not be spared. It cannot match with the suffering of the survivor or the family, but it will restore their faith and the faith of others in humanity and justice. It is about time when the Supreme court shall amend the law and declare death penalty or life imprisonment as minimum punishment for harsh and inhumane crimes such as gang-rape.

The only way to bring down the number of rape incidents in our country is deterrence, which can be done only by imposing some strict punishments. Creating some kind of fear in the minds of criminals can also be used to decrease the crime rate in the area of sexual offences. 

References

Bibliography

  1. Criminal Law, PSA Pillai’s
  2. Criminal Law, KD Gaur
  3. Indian Penal Code, KD Gaur

Webliography

  1.  www.scribd.com
  2. SCC Online
  3. Manupatra

[1] Sheikh Shamim v. The State of Bihar,

[2] AIR 2017 SC 2161

[3]  MANU/UP/2866/2017

[4] 2018 SCC Ker 1353.

[5] Raju v. State of Haryana (1998) Cr Lj 2583, p2592.

[6] Nimeshbhai Bharatbhai Desai vs. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCC Guj 1386.

[7] State v. Ram Singh & ors., 2014 SCC Del 1138.

[8] AIR 2003 SC 4684, (2003) 8 SCC 551.

[9] Priya Patel v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2006) 6 SCC 263.

[10] MANU/DE/2500/2018.

[11] MANU/WB/0556/2018.

[12] (1980) 2 S.C.C. 684

[13] State of M.P. v. Madanlal, 2015

 

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