Legal Articles

HOW TERMS “RIGOROUS” &  “EITHER DESCRIPTION” CO-EXIST IN ANTI-RAPE LAW ?

IT has been five years since Criminal Law (Amendment)  Ordinance,  2013 got promulgated by then President of India on 3 Feb,  2013 in the aftermath of much hyped Nirbhaya gruesome gangrape case which after couple of months in April,  2013 got duly  enacted as an Act of Parliament but even thereafter it came into force only retrospectively viz.  from the date of promulgation of aforesaid Ordinance i.e. 3 Feb that year. Now both in the text of Ordinance as well as in  the Criminal Law Amendment Act,  2013 Act,  there is a significant faux pas or goof-up at couple of places  which perhaps skipped the attention of every learned Parliamentarian during the passage of aforesaid Act. In Section 376(1) of IPC  it is mentioned that “whoever, except  in the cases provided for in sub-section(2),  commits rape,  shall be punished with RIGOROUS imprisonment of EITHER DESCRIPTION for a term_____”.  Now this writer-advocate seriously wonders when the term ‘rigorous’ is itself incorporated in this Section,  then why the term  imprisonment of ‘either description’ appears thereafter since in  criminal law imprisonment  means either  simple or else rigorous as per section 53 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).  Similar is the case with prevalent Section 376C IPC.  Now if this is an inadvertent omission or duly intentional one is anybody’s guess ?  When this writer advocate thoroughly researched this issue,  he found that actually the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill,  2012 as introduced in Lok Sabha on 4 Dec,  2012,  just days before Nirbhaya case,  it did not contained the term ‘rigorous’  but only “imprisonment of either description”,  but thereafter when Justice JS Verma Committee recommended this  imprisonment to be ‘rigorous’ then perhaps  in a bit of haste,  the word rigorous got used  in the text of aforesaid two sections but without omitting the terms ‘either description’. Now the twin words “rigorous” and “either-description” are inter-contradictory.  However,  this writer also wonders why this grave error even  continued when this law was thoroughly  debated in both Houses before being passed and getting duly enacted.  A letter-petition in this regard has been sent to President’s Secretariat, Prime Minister’s Office and Union Home Ministry at the time of writing this piece​ so ​that the aforesaid​ anomaly​ is rectified accordingly at the earliest.

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