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Karnataka High Court favours death for gang rape

By Express News Service

BENGALURU:  The Karnataka High Court has recommended amending provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to include capital punishment for gang rape in addition to the existing provisions of life imprisonment with fine. The high court made the suggestion keeping in mind women’s safety and to curb the menace of this crime in society at large.Death penalty already exists for gang rape-cum-murder, as in the Nirbhaya case, but is not yet applicable for cases of gang rape in which there has been no death.

A division bench of Justices B Veerappa and K Natarajan made this recommendation to the Legislature/Central Government for further amendments to provisions of IPC Section 376D which deal with gang rape, while upholding the trial court’s order sentencing seven accused to life imprisonment for the gang rape of a law student on the Jnana Bharathi campus in Bengaluru in October 2012. 

Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code describes gang rape and the penalties it attracts as “where 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 20 years, but which may extend to life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and with fine…”The court appreciated the victim for her courage during the legal battle, and pointed out that gang rape was much worse than murder.  

‘Attack on any daughter is attack on ours’

The bench of Justices B Veerappa and K Natarajan said that between Nirbhaya’s case and the gang rape of the law student, the only difference was that in the former, the victim died after the brutal crime was committed on her, but in the latter, “the victim discontinued her law course and returned to her homeland Nepal.”“We, the judges, are the societal parents. If our concern for the society of girls/women can be summed up in one sentence, an attack on anybody’s daughter is an attack on our daughter,” the bench said while pointing out the no remorse was shown by the accused during the trial. 

“…we cannot say that we have achieved Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of Indian independence and we are not proud to say that India achieved empowerment of women even after seven decades of independence of our country,” the HC remarked. The bench noted that rape is not only a crime against women, but against the entire civil society. “The accused have no principles of life. Because of the ghastly incident, the law and order of the nation, particularly Karnataka, is being made responsible. Since the reputation of the country is at stake, no lenience can be shown to the accused persons,” it said.

The court also appreciated the victim for her courage in the legal battle and effective assistance to Additional Public Prosecutor Vijay Kumar Majage, the district judge, investigating officers and the medical team. “The ‘kerchief’, an important piece of evidence left on the spot, with seminal stains of the accused and the victim, helped in proving the barbaric act of the accused. It has become the ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ of Lord Sri Krishna, to punish the accused persons”, the bench said while noting that a DNA analysis had conclusively proven their guilt. In the 160-page judgment, the bench directed all concerned, including the state and central governments and the media, to create awareness and increase gender sensitivity as it is crucial to enhance women’s safety.

The eight accused Ramu, Shivanna, Maddura, Eleyaiah, Eeraiah, Ramu and Dodda Eeraiah raped the victim after her friend dropped her off at her hostel near Gandhi Bhavan on the Bangalore University campus, around 9 pm on October 13, 2012. The six accused were sentenced to life imprisonment in September 2013-14 by the trial court. One of the accused, Ramu, who was absconding, was sentenced in 2017 after he was arrested by a special team constituted by the state government to probe the case. The proceedings against another accused was under the Juvenile Justice Act, as he was minor.

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