The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking to make laws on rape, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, “outraging one’s modesty” gender-neutral, Live Law reported.
“These [laws] are affirmative provisions for the protection of women and in their favour,” said the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. “We cannot agree with your argument. This appears to us like an imaginative petition. Actually, these are valid classification.”
Supreme Court lawyer Rishi Malhotra had filed the petition, calling for the words “any man” in offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code to be declared ultra vires of the Constitution.
“Crime has no gender and neither should our laws,” Malhotra argued. “Women commit crimes for the same reasons men do. The law does not and should not distinguish between criminals, and every person who has committed an offence is liable to punishment under the [Indian Penal] Code.”
The petition highlights Article 15 of the Constitution, saying it prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
Chief Justice Misra and Justice DY Chandrachud said amending a legislation was the authority of Parliament. “We cannot direct the parliament to collect data regarding it,” they said. “We are not saying a woman cannot rape a man, but these come under a different offence under the IPC. Even if we feel that the legislation should have been gender-neutral, what we feel is that the legislature would have acted as per what was the urgent requirement.”