“An attack on anybody’s daughter is an attack on our daughter”, observes Karnataka High Court in its judgement pertaining to the gangrape of a Nepali law student in Bengaluru in 2012. Asks Central government to amend 376D of IPC to provide death sentence to the gangrape accused. 376D currently provides life imprisonment and fine to gangrape accused.
BENGALURU—Stating that the “gangrape is worse than murder”, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday recommended death sentence for seven accused involved in gangrape of a law student from Nepal, while upholding the life imprisonment with fine given to them by the trail earlier.
A bench comprising Justices B Veerappa and K Natrajan also recommended that the provisions of Section 376D of Indian Penal Code be amended to give death sentence to the accused involved in gangrape of women.
Section 376D currently provides life imprisonment and fine for accused involved in gangrape.
Those convicted by the high court are Ramu, Shivanna, Maddura, Eleyaiah, Raja and Dodda Eeraiah. An eight accused, a minor, was remanded to three years in a state home.
Victim was studying law in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in 2012 and hailed from Nepal.
“We hereby recommend the Legislature/Central Government to further amend the provisions of Section 376D of Indian Penal Code – gangrape into capital punishment in addition to the existing provision for imprisonment of life and with fine on par with the provisions of Section 376AB and 376DB of Indian Penal Code keeping in view of definition of ‘Woman’ under Section 10 of Indian Penal Code in order to curb the menace of ‘gang rape’ in the society at large”, the high court said in its judgement.
Rejecting the appeal of the accused persons, the court said that “the damage caused by the accused is immense, irreparable and can not be retractable and the victim has to suffer throughout her life”.
“When a woman is ravished, what is inflicted is not merely physical injury, but a deep sense of some deathless shame…Between the Nirbhaya case and the present case, the only difference is that in the former case, the girl died after the brutal incident, but in the present case, the girl discontinued her studies and returned to her home country”, the bench observed.
In its judgment, the Bench also stressed on the need for gender sensitivity in order to curb the offence of rape.
Apart from advocating for a change in the societal mindset and spreading of awareness on gender justice, the Court also suggested the following practical measures: “…On the practical side, few of the suggestions are worthwhile to be considered. Banners and placards in the public transport vehicles like autos, taxis and buses, etc. must be ensured. Use of streetlights, illuminated bus-stops and extra police patrol during odd hours must be ensured. Police/Security guards must be posted at dark and lonely places like parks, streets, etc. CCTV cameras have to be installed in the important places…”
Background of the case
On October 13, 2012, near a road which is situated between the main building of the Bangalore University and NLSIU, the victim and her friend were seated in their parked car. The convicted persons surrounded the car holding deadly weapons like iron rods, saws, long knives, daggers, and rope.
The convicts forcibly opened the left front door of the car and dragged the victim girl into the forest area, where they gang-raped her.
After their arrest, the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court.
While refusing to interfering in the order of the trial court challenged by the convicts, Court observed, “The accused persons have acted like a deadly beasts in the forest. It was, as if the wild animals were hunting their helpless prey like a rabbit for satiating their sex hunger. In the present case, these accused persons have hunted victim girl in order to satisfy their desire of lust and have gang raped simultaneously one after another and some of them twice and thrice, which is barbaric against an human being, who are worst than cruel animals, and cannot be tolerated.”
Apart from making these observations, the Court also proceeded to give out various suggestions to the courts and the public on how to deal with rape cases and rape survivors.
Courts should impose punishment befitting the crime
The high court order says, “Justice demands that the Courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the Courts reflect public abhorrence. The Court must not only keep in view the rights of the criminal, but also the rights of the victim of the crime and the society at large while considering the imposition of appropriate punishment.”
The Court noted that the survivor had come to India from Kathmandu, Nepal to join NLSIU.
“Since the ‘reputation of the country is at stake’, no leniency can be shown to the accused persons. Any misplaced sympathy to the accused comes in the way of upholding ‘dignity of the court, majesty of law, traditions and cultures right from our ancient times,” the bench observed in its order.
Rape not only an offence against the victim, but the whole society
The Bench stated that “Rape is not only an offence against victim girl, but a crime against the entire society”.
The Bench also found it appropriate to quote Swami Vivekananda, who said, “the best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women”.
The Court also appreciated the courage shown by the victim in pursuing her complaint against the accused to protect her “Dharma” in spite of the unfortunate incident.
A child should be taught to respect both men and women
The Court further suggested that gender equality be made a part of school curriculum and that awareness programmes on gender sensitization must be initiated.
“A child should be taught to respect women in the society in the same way as he is taught to respect men. Gender equality should be made a part of the school curriculum. The school teachers and parents should be trained, not only to conduct regular personality-building and skill enhancing exercise, but also to keep a watch on the actual behavioural pattern of the children so as to make them gender sensitised. The educational institutions, government institutions, the employers and all concerned must take steps to create awareness with regard to gender sensitisation and to respect women.”
General public has to be supportive of survivors
The Bench noted that the relatives of the victim and the society at large should be supportive of survivors of rape so as to ensure that the right to life of such person/s under Article 21 is protected.
The Court further mentioned that during the Vedic times, great value was attached to the chastity of women. Therefore, any attempt to rob her off of chastity was considered to be a sin. The punishment as per Manu for such crime included throwing the perpetrator out of the society, said the Bench.
“It is surprising to note that when victims of rape in modern India are admonished by the society, the Vedic Society was much more supportive of survivors of rape.”
The Court concluded, “We, the Judges are the societal parents. If our concern for the society of girls/ women can be summed up in one sentence that “An attack on anybody’s daughter is an attack on our daughter.”
(With inputs from Bar and Bench)