The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea filed by a non-governmental organisation seeking to amend the law against rape to make it gender-neutral, ANI reported. The court said Parliament should decide on the matter instead.
The organisation Criminal Justice Society of India had sought the amendment to the Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines rape and punishment for the crime.
“We are not inclined to interfere at this stage,” said Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul. “The Parliament has to take a call in the issue.”
In its petition, the NGO argued that men and transgender, homosexual and bisexual people are “sequestered from the point of view of victims of rape under the existing penal laws of the country, despite an impending need for the same”, Live Law reported. The petition said lack of acknowledgement of male and transgender rape has affected victims’ ability to recognise their own victimisation.
In 2000, the Law Commission of India had proposed in its 172nd report that the anti-rape law be modified and made gender-neutral, Live Law reported. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012, which applies to children under the age of 18, is gender-neutral.
The petition pointed out that until recently, the rape of men was being covered as sodomy under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. It pointed out the National Human Rights Commission has observed that sexual abuse is one of the primary reasons why prison inmates commit suicide. In September, the Supreme Court decriminalised consensual homosexual activity between adults when it read down Section 377.
“…The intention behind this petition is to protect the rights of men and women, homosexual or heterosexual, and that of transgenders alike, from being physically violated by another person without their consent,” the petition said. “Once the element of consent is taken out of the dynamics of any physical relationship, any person, regardless of their gender or sex could be subjected to sexual violation or rape by another person.”