An Overview of Rape & It’s Laws in India

This article is inscribed by Jasmine Suri.


In this article the author writes about the Rape Laws in India, what led to their change and development, the role of society in this crime, the role of gender, the problems faced by the victims and some other interesting points that shall broaden your legal horizon towards Rape as an unlawful act.

While a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, a rapist degrades and defiles the soul of a helpless female. “Remarked Justice Arjit Pasayat.


  • Unlawful sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of varying factors, or deception is referred as Rape.

Although, most of the states have redefined and broadened the statutory defination of rape so that marriage, gender, age and force are not relevnt; the victim’s lack of consent  remains to be a crucial element.

In India ‘rape’ has been defined in section 375 of the Indian Penal Code,

“A man is said to commit ‘rape’ who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has  intercourse with a woman in the following conditions :

  1. Against the will of the woman.
  2. Without the consent of the woman.
  3. With her consent but when her consent has been taken by putting her or any one   she is interested in, in fear of Hurt or death.
  4. When she gives consent to a man who knows that he is not her husband but the woman believes that she is lawfully married to him.
  5. When she gives consent because of an unsound mind, she is intoxicated or she is unable to identify or understand the consequences to which she is giving consent.
  6. If she has not attained18 years of age (without or with consent).
  7. When the consent cannot be communicated.

What Led To The Change In Condition Of These Laws?

The Rape cases stood intact for over a century.

The Mathura custodial rape case, the perspective towards the rape laws and their way of proceeding met a drastic change when Mathura, an Adivasi girl was brutally raped in Desai Ganj Police Station of Maharashtra by a police man himself. 

This case dates back to 26th March 1972. Rape could not be proved and that the girl Mathura, was habitual to intercourse; was the conclusion of Sessions Court. 

In the 5th September 1978 verdict, The Hon’ble Supreme Court said ‘no marks of injury were found on the girl’s body and their absence strictly indicates that this intercourse was a peaceful affair.’

Massive protests was stimulated in India after this disputable verdict of the Apex court that demanded a change in prevailing rape laws. As a result the Criminal Law (second amendment) Act 1983, was framed and Section 114 A was inserted in Indian Evidence Act,  This applied to custodial rape cases. Section 228 A was added in IPC under which the disclosure of The victim’s Identity was made punishable.

The role played by gender :

It’s little incongruous to say that the role of gender is a big one in the crimes like  rape and sexual assault, which should actually be gender neutral.

Rape as defined in section 375 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 still remains gender specific. A PIL was initiated by an NGO to broaden the definition of sexual intercourse in section 375 of the IPC . In the 172th report the commission recommended that  broadening the scope of rape law so that it becomes gender unbiased.

False acquisition of rape

 Rape is no crime to play games involving revenge, still some people use it that way.

There are several ways in which an alleged victim can accidentally come to believe that they have been raped by the person they accuse.

Still the main reason remains the LIE, An accuser may have several motivations to falsely claim that they have been raped. Alot of reasons can be there-

◆ Material gain: to receive material benefits.  

◆ Revenge: to retaliate against a disliked person by damaging the reputation or finances. 

◆ Attention: an attempt to receive any kind of attention, positive or negative. 

◆ Sympathy: a special kind of attention-seeking.

◆ ‘A disturbed mental state’.

Is sexual intercourse between the consenting adults regarded as Rape on the condition if a man goes back on his promise to marry that woman?

‘Yes’ was answered for this query, by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

In a noteworthy verdict, the Apex court convicted a doctor with the charges of rape in Chhattisgarh because his promise to marry a woman against which he had a consensual sexual relationship but then married someone else and went back on his own word.

 L Nageswara Rao and MR Shah, the judges, said that this could not be taken as consent because it was only provided because the woman believed that the doctor intended to marry her.

India is still Orthodox in the matter of premarital sexual relationships , Maidenhood and virginity is priced and a girl who’s known to have a premarital sexual relationship may find it difficult to get married.

The accused had “transparent intention” of not marrying her and “sexual intercourse under complete misconception cannot be treated as free consent”. Said by the judges. 

Nevertheless the Apex court reduced the 10 year imprisonment by the trial court to 7, the judges were of the point that the accused “has to face the consequences of the crime that has been committed by him”.

According to the government’s Crime Data for 2016,  10,068 recorded similar cases of rape on promise to marry were reported. In 2015 this figure was 7,655. Thus, it’s not an infrequent case.

Statistics :

◆ According to the reports on NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau) 2018 annaul report, 33,356 rape cases were reported in India, out of which 31,320, i.e. 93.9% of them were committed by known person.

◆ In India, Every fourth victim of rape is a minor.

◆ 50% of the victims are under the  category of 18 to 30 years.

◆ Overall. 72.2% of rape victim are above 18 years of age, and 27.8% are below the age of 18.

◆ Among the states, Madhya Pradesh reported the highest cases of rape, i.e. 5,4333 cases in 2018; followed by Rajasthan (4,335), Uttar Pradesh (3,946), etc.

Problems faced by rape victims : 

◆ Deprivation of right to life and personal liberty.

◆ Forced to undergo uncomfortable procedures and inquiries both inside the court as well as from the people outside.

◆ Excluded by society and at times, prohibited from right to education as well.

◆ Exploitation by the media and the people often does the character assassination.

◆ Interference of various political parties into the matter or changing it into a political issue.

◆ Deprivation of the victim from certain rehabilitative and aftercare treatment.

◆ Delay in the trial proceedings which results in delay in delivering justice.

The Role Played By Society

There are still a lot of cases which are not even reported because this is still considered as a big shame by many people of the society. In many parts of the country the rape victims are threatened to keep quiet for the reputation of the family, she is ignored by her own family as an untouchble object, she is married to a man double her age, or the rape victims again become a victim of honor killing. 

 As an example, The Bandit Queen case , which depicts the tragic story of a village girl. Fulan Devi was left unprotected against the last and brutality from an early age. She was married to a man old enough to be her father. She was beaten and raped by him. She was accused of lowering boys of high caste and expelled from the village. She was arrested by the police and subjected to humiliation. Adequate leader kidnapped and raped her and was also stripped naked in front of the entire village by the dacoit. This is mainly not a story but a clear-cut example of this unconcerned society.

Conclusion :

The laws and the society both are becoming serious towards the crime of rape. The court trial and the procedures are becoming more accountable and quick.

A good deal of new laws have been introduced in the legal framework. For example; The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.

This article contains a brief introduction and a basic background about ‘Rape’ and the laws related to it. 

Everything needs to be transparent and accountable, so is the case with these criminals, they need to be held accountable for their acts, and the redressal process has to be quick, the victims deserve justice on the cost of nothing, they should not be held responsible for rape by the society and the media, no one including the media should have the right to do their character assassination, and she, the victim should get equal respect as the other respectable women of the society.


3 Replies to “An Overview of Rape & It’s Laws in India”

  1. A beautiful introspection with legal point of view but should be drawn attention to advisory committee of law board.

  2. Very well written article. Longer and delayed legal procedures in rape cases decreases the morale of the victims and the ones who are fighting for the cause. Justice delayed is justice denied.

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