SC rejects plea to make rape gender neutral offence, terms as 'imaginative'

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a PIL for making laws pertaining to rape, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, outraging the modesty gender-neutral offence to punish both man and woman.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud dismissed the petition filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra describing it as “imaginative and innovative.”

The CJI told the counsel, “These are affirmative provisions (in the IPC) for the protection of women and in their favour. We cannot agree with your argument. This appears to us like an imaginative petition. Actually these are valid classification.”

Malhotra argued that crime has no gender and neither should our laws. Women commit crime for the same reasons that 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 CrPC.

Refusing to accept the submissions, Justice Chandrachud told Malhotra that even otherwise amending legislation was the job of the Parliament.

“It is up to the parliament. We cannot direct the parliament to collect data regarding it.”

“We are not saying a woman cannot rape a man but these come under different offence under the IPC.”

The CJI observed, “Even if we feel the legislation should have been gender-neutral, what we feel is legislature would have acted as per what was the urgency.”

The petitioner challenged the constitutional validity of IPC Sections 354, 353 A, B, C and D as well as Section 375 as they discriminate men against women in the commission of the offence which directly violates Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution as “women too rape men”. 

He quoted a survey which said that 16 per cent of men had stated that they been coerced into having sex. There are several statistics to suggest that men are raped and the prevalence of men rape is wider than is generally presumed. 

Hence, Malhotra wanted the law to be gender neutral to punish both man and woman.

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