Supreme Court to Inspect If Women Can Be Charged Under IPC Section 375

In a recent legal development, the Supreme Court of India finds itself grappling with a unique question: can a woman be charged with rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)? This intriguing scenario unfolded when a 62-year-old widow claimed she was falsely implicated in a rape case against her son.

The court, comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol, raised doubts about whether the existing legal framework allows for a woman to be booked for rape. Section 375 of the IPC explicitly refers to a “man” as the perpetrator of rape, hinting that only men can be accused of this offense. The court issued a notice and adjourned the anticipatory bail plea filed by the widow, signaling a deeper examination of this legal conundrum.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that women cannot be charged with rape, emphasizing that legal precedent excludes women from sharing common intention in gangrape cases. This case revolves around allegations that the widow and her son were involved in the rape of a woman earlier this year.

The complainant had reportedly been in a long-distance relationship with the widow’s elder son, whom she “married” through a video call without any traditional rituals. The widow claimed that family pressure led to a compromise agreement, terminating the relationship and involving a substantial sum of money.

However, weeks after the compromise, the complainant filed a criminal case against the widow and her younger son, accusing them of rape, wrongful confinement, hurt, and criminal intimidation. The widow, after being denied pre-arrest bail by lower courts, sought relief from the Supreme Court.

The complainant’s version alleges that she had promised to marry the elder son, who threatened suicide if she married someone else. The complainant claimed the elder son instructed her to live with his mother until he could come to India, marry her in court, and take her to the USA. According to her, the widow and younger son pressured her into marrying the latter, resulting in rape and other offenses.

In response, the widow dismissed the allegations as a fabricated case with false claims made after a significant delay. The High Court, while rejecting her anticipatory bail plea, deemed these matters suitable for trial.

Interestingly, a related legal precedent from the Allahabad High Court suggested that although women cannot commit rape, facilitating gang-rape could lead to prosecution. This nuance, according to the court, stems from amended provisions in the IPC.

This legal saga underscores the complexity of addressing gender-specific elements within the legal system. As the Supreme Court contemplates whether a woman can be accused of rape under Section 375, it raises fundamental questions about the interpretation of existing laws and the need for legal clarity.

In conclusion, this case presents a legal quandary that challenges conventional understanding. As the judiciary delves into the intricacies of this matter, it becomes crucial to balance legal interpretations with a nuanced understanding of societal dynamics. The outcome of this case could potentially shape future legal discourse and contribute to evolving perspectives on gender-specific legal provisions.