January 04, 2002



    The Law Commission of India has recommended review of rape laws to prevent custodial rape and crime of sexual abuse against youngsters.

    In its 172nd Report on Review of Rape Laws, the Commission has recommended changes for widening scope of the offence in Section 375 of Indian Penal Code and to make it gender neutral. Various other changes have been recommended in Sections 376, 376A to 376D. The Commission has also recommended insertion of a new Section 376E dealing with unlawful sexual contact, deletion of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and enhancement of punishment in Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code. The Commission has recommended various changes in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 in order to plug the loopholes in procedural provisions. The Commission has proposed replacement of the present word rape by the word sexual assault as per the suggestions of the National Commission for Women.

    The Report focuses on the need to review the rape laws in the light of increased incidents of custodial rape and crime of sexual abuse against youngsters. The crime of sexual assault on a child causes lasting psychic damage to the child and as such, it is essential to prevent sexual abuse of children through stringent provisions. The United Nations Conventions and various constitutional provisions also underlines the need for protecting the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

    The Report comes out of a petition made by Sakshi Vs. Union of India drawing the attention of the Supreme Court to the fact that the present laws relating to rape are not adequate to cover various sexual atrocities against woman or child sexual abuse. Sakshi, a voluntary organisation for the welfare of women and children, proposed a draft amendment to the present provisions in Indian Penal Code and the same came up for examination by the Law Commission at the instance of the apex court. The Law Commission also prepared a draft which also incorporated the suggestions of the National Commission for Women. Beside, the present Report replaces the 154th Report of the Law Commission dealing with the subject matter as per the Supreme Court direction and in deference of the wishes of Sakshi.