Recent report of SCW on Pipili Rape case- A legal review



Dear Dharitri,

Please refer to the Report of State Commission for Women (SCW) on Pipili Rape Case, as reported in The Dharitri. Recent investigation of rape incident by SCW in narrow sense deserves to be criticized. As per media reports, SCW appears to have referred the medical reports to confirm the incident of rape from narrow legal angle of Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (IPC). As per Section 375 of the IPC , rape is defined in India as intentional, unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent. The essential elements of this definition are 'sexual intercourse with a woman' and’ the absence of consent’. Whereas, section 354 of the IPC separately deals with 'criminal assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty' and Section 377 IPC covers 'carnal intercourse against the order of nature'. By referring these two sections (section 354 & 377) verdicts of Supreme Court has many often tried to define the rape on women in a wider sense and therefore, these two sections have potentials to bring powerless minorities, such as socially backward & secluded individuals, bonded labourers, prison inmates, sex workers and others under definition of rape. For example Public Interest Litigation before the Supreme Court (Sakshi v. Union of India, 2004) has delivered following opinion in court of law. ... the interpretation [by which such other forms of abuse as offences fall under Section 354 IPC or Section 377 IPC] is ... contrary to the contemporary understanding of sexual abuse and violence all over the world. There has been for some time a growing body of feminist legal theory and jurisprudence which has clearly established rape as an experience of humiliation, degradation and violation rather than an outdated notion of penile/vaginal penetration. Restricting an understanding of rape reaffirms the view that rapists treat rape as sex and not violence and thereby condone such behaviour. Therefore, SCW constituted for protecting, promoting the interests of women could have investigated the injuries caused to the victim from the viewpoints of humiliation, degradation, and violation occurred to the victim and accordingly could have dynamically/radically confirmed the incident of rape occurred to the victim rather than merely referring the medical reports that have been prepared in very uneven politicized circumstances. The honesty and sincerity maintained in medical reports, as prepared during politicized circumstances, will always be doubted.  As per media reports, the SCW by referring the FIR has noted a ligature mark of injury on the neck of the victim who was found to be lying unconscious and half necked in a field. This observation by SCW could have been sufficient for redefining the section 354 of IPC in the light of above observation of Supreme Court (Sakshi v. Union of India, 2004). It would have helped SCW for radically declaring that the Victim has been raped. I think, the SCW could have realized their very sense of responsibility and mandate, while making such a stereotype report (perhaps in favour of state government, as alleged by opposition !! ). Thanks.

S. Mahapatra