Inaugurating the Consultation Shri Anil Kumar Rao, IG Rohtak Range asked the Police to ensure strict compliance of various laws on women and children. He said that combating Violence against women was a priority issue for the Police and requested all stakeholders and NGO to partner together in combating these social malaise prevailing in the society. He also spoke on recent changes in the law especially related to sexual assault of women and children. he appealed to all Police officers to be sensitive to cases of women and children.
Mr Satish Kumar Dy SP gave a detailed presentation on the Criminal Amendment Act 2013. He spoke on various changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code and Evidence Act.
The rape tragedy in Delhi on December 2012 was followed by the creation of the J.S. Verma Committee to look into the adequacy of legislations that afford protection to women in India. The Committee recommended inter alia an amendment to the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which was first brought about vide Presidential Ordinance on February 3, 2013. The Ordinance was subsequently raised as a Bill in Parliament during the Budget Session and was passed as an Act on April 2 , 2013. The Act, known as the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, has brought about several significant changes to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973”.
The Amendment has made special provisions for acid attacks. Acid has been defined as any substance which has a corrosive nature; it may include bleach, bathroom and toilet acid, Harpic, etc. Under the new section 326A a person who throws or administers acid on another person and causes damage or deformity is liable for an imprisonment that is not less than ten years, and may extend to life imprisonment. Any fine that is collected under section 326A is granted to the victim for medical expenses. An attempt to throw acid upon a person is met with imprisonment of up to seven years, but not less than five years for the attacker, under section 326B
The right of private defence under section 100 extends even to the causing of the death of an attacker under certain circumstances such as an assault from which it may be clear that death or hurt are likely to follow, an assault with the intention of committing rape or satisfying unnatural lust upon a person, an assault made with the intention of kidnapping, and an assault intended for wrongful imprisonment. The Amendment has introduced a seventh category of private defence which includes an acid attack within its ambit. If a person is apprehensive of being hurt by an acid attack, that person has a right of private defence which extends to causing the death of the attacker.
A man who makes unwelcome sexual advances, forcefully shows pornography or demands/requests sexual favours from a woman commits the offence of sexual harassment simpliciter under section 354A; this is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.
There are also other categories of sexual harassment that have been listed as separate offences under the Amendment. If a man assaults a woman with the intent of removing her clothes or compelling her to be naked, he commits an offence under section 354B, which is punishable with imprisonment between three and seven years.
Voyeurism is the next category of sexual harassment. Voyeurism is the act of watching a person engaged in private activities. If a man watches a woman engaged in private activities, when the woman does not expect anyone to be watching, he has committed the offence of voyeurism under section 354C and is liable to be imprisoned between one and three years for the first time, and between three and seven years for subsequent convictions.
Stalking is the last offence in the category of sexual harassment. It means following a person and making or attempting to make contact for personal interaction, despite a clear disinterest being displayed by the other person. Stalking may be committed both physically and through electronic media. If a man stalks a woman, he may be punished with imprisonment of up to three years for the first time, and five years for the subsequent convictions.
Mr Ravi Kant President Shakti Vahini and Advocate Supreme Court gave a detailed presentation on Human Trafficking in India. He explained the recent changes in Section 370 IPC which has criminalised trafficking in persons and also prescribed stringent punishment for the offence .
While speaking on Section 370 IPC he said that While the old section 370 of IPC dealt with only buying or disposing of any person as a slave the new section will take in its purview buying or disposing of any person for various kinds of exploitation including slavery. This provision includes organ trade. As the explanation further clarifies “exploitation” would also include prostitution. This is in addition to the ITP Act, 1956. The intention of the legislature in including “other forms of sexual exploitation” and “forced labour or services” can be read to address situations where the trafficked persons are used for pornographic purposes or services like massage parlours.
The new section also ensures that persons involved at each and every stage of trafficking chain are brought within the criminal justice system. Also by specifically including that if a person is brought with his/her consent, where such consent is obtained through force, coercion, fraud, deception or under abuse of power, the same will amount to trafficking, the law has been substantially strengthened. This will cover all situations where girls who happen to be major are duped with promises of marriage and willingly accompany the traffickers who exploit them in various ways. While earlier no specific offence was made out for the mere bringing of the girl in question now that too is criminalized. It has also been specifically added in the provision that consent of the victim is immaterial for the determination of the offence.
The new section also differentiates the instances of trafficking major persons from minor persons. This differentiation is brought about by providing separate penalty for each with higher minimum sentence for trafficking minor persons. While earlier no minimum imprisonment term was provided, now, the minimum (rigorous) imprisonment term is fixed.
In addition the section also provides for enhanced punishment for repeated offender as well as where the offender traffics more than one person at the same time. By providing that trafficking in minor persons on a repeated conviction will attract imprisonment for life (meaning the remaining natural life) the law has been substantially changed. This will surely act as a big deterrent. Involvement of a public servant including a police officer shall entitle him to life imprisonment which shall mean the remaining natural life.
Also ‘370A. (1) Whoever, despite knowing, or having reason to believe that a child has been trafficked, employs such child in any form of labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but w h i c h may extend to seven years, and with fine.
(2) Whoever, despite knowing or having reason to believe that an adult has been trafficked, employs such adult for labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.’
Addition of the section 370 A further adds strength to trafficking related law by criminalizing employment of a trafficked (major/minor) person. A person who has even reason to believe or apprehension that the minor/major person employed by them has been trafficked will make them criminally liable. This places a huge responsibility on the employers who were till now, let off easily under the not so strict provisions of the child labour laws and juvenile related laws.
Here also a higher minimum prison term is prescribed where a minor person is involved. Also important is the fact that irrespective of age of the person employed, simply employing a trafficked person is an offence.
This provision will go a long way in ensuring that people verify the antecedents of the placement agencies as also get the police verification of the persons employed. This will also aide in curbing the huge demand for labour who are victims of unsafe migration.
Mr Nishi Kant Executive Director, Shakti Vahini spoke about various initiatives of the Organization to combat Violence against women and children in India. He stated that Shakti Vahini is committed to strengthen the governmental responses and works very closely with various statutory agencies. He said that the organization will further organise such consultations across Haryana , West Bengal, Jharkhand ,Assam , Bihar and Delhi . He thanked all participants and the various coordinating Officers who were responsible in successfully organising the one day consultation.