[Women Rights] Nirbhaya Centres, Victim friendly Courts &IPC 376-E: Death Penalty for Rapists

polity8 Comments

  1. Prologue
  2. W1: Nirbhaya Centres
    1. Timeline of events
    2. Salient features of Nirbhaya centres:
    3. Criticism against Nirbhya Centre project
  3. W2: Courts vs Rape victims
    1. Sakshi guidelines not followed
    2. “Loose Character”
    3. Quality of a good judge
  4. IPC 376-E: Death Penalty for Rapists vs Jholachhap NGOs
  5. Mock Questions

Prologue

  • Relevance? General Studies (Mains) Paper2: Laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections (which includes women and children).
  • For above section, I’m combining three topics from current affairs:
  1. September week2: Nirbhya Centres
  2. September Week3: Making Indian courts rape-victim friendly
  3. April 2014: Jholachhap NGOs oppose Death penalty in Shakti mill rape case.

W1: Nirbhaya Centres

Timeline of events
2012, DecemberDelhi Gangrape
2013, Budget
  • Government setup “Nirbhaya fund’ with 1000 crores, to support women safety projects such as CCTV @public places, GPS-Emergency buttons in public vehicles, toll free numbers and defense classes.
  • Fund is non-lapsable. Although hardly any money spent so far.
2014, July
  • Government announced setting up 660 rape crisis centres across India, called “Nirbhaya centres”
  • Funding from Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Although not to totally new reform in the world. Such centres have been setup in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand since mid 90s.
2014, September
  • Opened in Puducherry and Uttar Pradesh.

Salient features of Nirbhaya centres:

  • Dedicated one-stop location for women in crisis.
  • For Victims of all type of absues: rape, molestation, domestic violence.
  • Has trained staff to provide
  • Food, clothes and temporary shelter.
  • Medical assistance, Psycho-social support and counselling
  • Retired police officer at every center. He’ll help the victim lodge FIR and record statements.
  • Panel of Lawyers in each centre, to give legal aid.
  • Video conferencing (For court hearings)

Criticism against Nirbhya Centre project

  1. Government setting up centres only at district level. Poor / abandoned women cannot afford to travel village to district HQ. Atleast there should be provision for travel assistance/ volunteers at village level.
  2. Earlier Domestic violence Act 2005, provided for Protection officers- but they’re not functioning properly in every state. So, what are the chances of these “retired” police officers helping rape victims?
  3. No special arrangements for child victims.
  4. Instead of setting such new centres, Government should revamp the local thana and primary health centres to help victims.

W2: Courts vs Rape victims

Summary of a Hindu column- on How to make Indian courts friendly to victims of sex-abuse?

Sakshi guidelines not followed

2004: Sakshi Guidelines, Supreme court ordered following

  • In the case of Child sex abuse, the defence lawyer has to first give written list of questions to judge. Then Judge will decide which questions are relevant to the case, and permit defense lawyer to ask them to victim. But often these guidelines are ignored.
  • Videotaped interview of child’s testimony. No need for child to court.
  • During hearing, Judge should give breaks to child as and when required.

Additionally

  • During the hearing, victim should not made to face the accused
  • There should be a screen or a one-way mirror or video conferencing to shield her.
  • Sessions courts are formidable and intimidating spaces. There should be special rooms to conduct hearing on child victims.

“Loose Character”

Nirbhaya cases never pass due to such lawyers

and most importantly, need to debar such lawyers

  • Even if there is material record to show that the victim was habituated to sexual intercourse, Judge should not make inference like the victim is a girl of ‘loose moral character’.
  • Because it casts a lifelong stigma on the victim. Besides, it is the accused and not the victim of sex crime who is facing the trial.
  • 1996: Supreme court did not permit any questions regarding the victim’s past sexual history.

Quality of a good judge

  • Only lady judges should preside over rape and child abuse cases.
  • But it’s a mistake to presume that all lady judges are equally sensitive to victims. Biology alone doesn’t determine sensitivity.
  • Judge should be confident and well versed in case laws. If judge lacks in confidence, he’ll be cowed down intimidating and time-waste tactics of defence lawyers.
  • Often, the poor victims cannot afford to travel repeatedly for the hearings. Judge should ensure that Victim’s deposition is finished on the same day- even if it means sitting beyond court hours.
  • Some judges even permit victim to wait in his chamber. That way defense lawyer and his ‘lukhkhaa-parties’ cannot intimidate her indirectly in the court premises. Such small gestures, help reducing victim’s trauma.
  • In the hostile court environment, Victim looks upto the Judge to protect her. Therefore, A judge is duty-bound to maintain the delicate balance between: “right to fair trial of the accused” vs “right to dignity of the victim”

W3: IPC 376-E: Death Penalty for Rapists vs Jholachhap NGOs

(Interview) What do you know about section 376/E in the IPC? Do you agree with the demands by certain (jholachhap) activists that it is “retributive” in nature and therefore should be repealed?

Background:

  • After the Nirbhaya case in Dec 2012, government forms Justice Verma Committee.
  • Based on his recommendation, Criminal laws amendment bill 2013 tabled in parliament and passed by both houses.
  • April 2013: President signed.

According to these amendments,

  • Certain new offenses included. you can read list on PRSIndia click me
  • Penalties increased in existing laws (IPC, SC-ST, IT act etc.) you can read the list on PRSIndia: click me
  • One of them is IPC Section 376(E). It provides maximum death penalty for repeat offence of rape.

Present controversy:

  • July 2013: A call centre employee raped in Shakti mills.
  • August 2013: photojournalist raped in Shakti mills by the same criminals.
  • April 2014: Mumbai session courts awards death penalty to the three rapists- because they were repeat offenders under 376/E.
pro 376-E argumentanti (=no death penalty)
Death penalty prevent recidivism (=when criminal repeats offense after coming out of jail)
  • (Mrunal this is height of stupidity but have to write)….The Jholachhap NGOs argue that 376-E applies only after rapist is convicted in one offense, spends 7-10 years in jail, then comes out rapes again….only then he can be called “repeat offender” under 376E and get death penalty.
  • Hence 376/E is wrongly applied in this case because both crimes were done in same year.
The three men have already been sentenced to life imprisonment in the telephone operator’s gang rape case. after that judge heart the photojournalist case=>376E applies.
  • Rather than 376/E, these criminals should be given life sentence for gang rape under 376D.
Shakti mills criminals were emboldened since police did not catch them in previous call-center case. This case definitely deserves application of 376/E.
  • Originally, Justice JS Verma Committee had recommended only maximum life imprisonment in Section 376E amendment.
  • But succumbing to public and media pressure, government replaced it with death penalty.
The repetition of crime by accused itself can be seen as repetition of defying law, if he would not been caught, he would have continue with his heinous acts.Death sentence is not going to diminish violence against women which is deeply rooted in unequal and discriminatory practices.
There is no certainty that an accused will be reformed after passing sentence.376E prevents any possibility of improvement /reform of the accused.
Death penalty is meant to show that respect of women is important in our society, where rape is not just another crime in the law-book.

Mock Questions

(GS2) Comment on following statements, 200 words each

  1.  “To help the women in crisis, much needs to be done beyond piecemeal gestures such as Nirbhaya fund and Nirbhaya centres.”
  2.  “Laws and institutional arrangements alone are insufficient to reduce the trauma of the victims of sex-abuse.”

Write Essay on following topics:

  1. Today’s victims are tomorrow’s perpetrators hidden in plain sight. (UNICEF- in context that child victims of extreme violence in their early years, end up as perpetrators themselves.)
  2.  “When women are safe, nations are safe”
  3. Has Indian Society has become silent to injustices?
  4. Can girl-child grow without fear in India?
  5. Only sustained and systematic efforts in families, communities and in society can end violence against women.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha


So far 8 Comments posted

  1. charlie

    mrunal how to save your article on my android mobile as pdf

    1. Mukesh Pandey

      open the article in your mobile in google chrome browser and click on print, and in printer option select save as pdf and then click on print it will be downloaded to you phone download folder

  2. SUSHANT BHARGAV

    Mrunal Sir,

    On topics such as this where two or parties are involved in conflict ( others being two or more nations, companies etc) should we write being in favor of any of such party or should we write being as much as unbiased we can be.
    For example :
    A) in an essay about “Human Rights in J & K”, nothing is ever very clear, we write from point of view and stand of our Government but International view is different.
    B) In 376-e law if we want to put up that it can be used as retaliatory measure like Dowry Laws but again we can’t say that it will be or will not be used as retaliatory measure against a party,
    As you can see my points are weak, but still it is a point so in cases where I have to write an essay where there is scope of mentioning a right thing but my point is ambiguous or weak or Not-politically-correct-enough should I go ahead and still mention my thing or avoid touching that part for sake of essay ?
    Or on the side note : should I go ahead and write a complete communist revolutionary type of essay which might land me in jail instead of IAS ?

    1. Naveen E

      Hello Sushant,

      Hope you don’t mind with me replying.

      Normally highly controversial topics are not asked by UPSC (unless some expert committee has put a proper lid on to it), especially if they are biased against India.

      IMO, there is no problem in criticising government provided they are genuine (For eg: The Hindu articles). Being a sycophant doesn’t earn you favors here. Rather it might even be counterproductive.

      1. SUSHANT BHARGAV

        Thanks,

        that’s what I wanted to know, I think I will write whatever I think right & when in doubt I will left it untouched because an uninformed opinion is not an opinion at all, it’s misconception

        1. Zeus

          Hi Sushant,

          I beg to differ from Naveen over here. I think you cannot be openly critical of any decision or policy of the government. What you can offer is constructive criticism and evaluation of unintended spillover effects. Moreover while criticising, you are always expected to suggest practical reforms as well.
          And please refrain from writing a communist style essay. Reason being essay is not merely reflection of your ability to write, it also depicts your personality to some extent. This is just a personal opinion.

          Thanks

  3. ANUBHAB DAS

    sound work rajtanil…hats off to you….

  4. MK PANDEY

    How to write a impressive essay in UPSC IAS exam….

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