In 2018, after the nationwide anger and agitation with regard to Kathua and Unnao rape cases, the Government passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, to amend certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code (1860), Indian Evidence Act (1872), the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973), and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (2012). The provisions concerning which the amendments were to be made dealt with sexual assault and rape.
This law note tells you about the significant amendments the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2018 bought to IPC, CrPC, and the Evidence Act.
Major Amendments to IPC
These are the major amendments made in the Indian Penal Code due to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018:
Amendments to section 376 (Punishment for rape)
- The minimum punishment for rape of a woman increased from 7 years to 10 years.
- Rape of a girl below the age of 16 years will carry the minimum punishment of 20 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment.
- Rape of a girl below the age of 12 years will carry the minimum punishment of 20 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment or capital punishment. (Section 376AB inserted)
- In case of gang rape of a girl below the age of 16 years, the punishment will be life sentence. (Section 376DA inserted)
- In case of gang rape of a girl below the age of 12 years, the punishment will be life sentence or death. (Section 376DB inserted)
- Provision regarding the fine to be payable to the victim has also been added through the amendment. This fine should be just and reasonable, which could meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim.
Section 376DA and section 376DB are thus the extensions of section 376D, that is, gang rape.
- Further, an amendment to section 376E (punishment for repeat offenders) has also been made where section 376AB, section 376DA, and section 376DB have also been added along with section 376, section 376A, and section 376D. That is, whoever has been previously convicted of an offence punishable under section 376 or section 376A or section 376AB or section 376D or section 376DA or section 376DB and is subsequently convicted for an offence punishable under any of the said sections shall be punished with imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.
Major Amendments to CrPC
These are the significant amendments made to the Criminal Procedure Code by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2018:
- An amendment was made in sub-section 1A of section 173 of CrPC, which stated a time duration of two months for investigation in relation to offences under sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376E of the Indian Penal Code.
- Amendment in section 374 of CrPC added clause 4 relating to disposal of appeal within six months from the date of filing of such appeal in cases relating to sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376E of IPC.
- Amendment in section 377 of CrPC laid down a similar provision as that of section 374 but with regard to appeal by the state government.
- Amendment in section 438 of CrPC laid down provision regarding non-application of anticipatory bail provisions under section 438 made under offences committed under clause 3 of sections 376, 376AB, 376DA and 376DB.
- Amendment in section 439 of CrPC added a proviso which stated that the High Court or Court of Session shall give notice of application for bail to the Public Prosecutor within 15 days from the date of receipt of the notice of such application before granting bail to a person accused of offences under clause 3 of section 378, 378AB, 378DA and 378DB. It also makes mandatory the presence of the informant or any person authorised by him at the time of hearing of the application for bail to the person under the above sections.
Major Amendment to the Indian Evidence Act
- Amendment in section 53A of the Evidence Act added sections 376AB, 376DA and 376DB in the main section.
Though the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, has made changes in the age and trial-related provisions of the accused, it is in a grave contradiction to that of the POCSO Act.
There are a number of provisions in the IPC and POCSO Act with regard to the punishment for the cases of rape of a minor, which often leads to the question of who will have the upper hand while deciding the punishment. But POCSO Act clearly mentions that between POCSO Act and IPC, whichever will have the higher (severer) punishment, will be applicable in the case of rape of minor(s).
You can see the full Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 PDF here.