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Sakshi v Union of India (UOI) and Ors.

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NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK

Sakshi v Union of India (UOI) and Ors.  Citations: AIR 2004 SC 3566, 2004 (2) ALD Cri 504

In this petition the Petitioner organisation asked for the following reliefs:

  • “sexual intercourse” as contained in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code shall include all forms of penetration such as penile/vaginal penetration, penile/oral penetration, penile/anal penetration, finger/vaginal and finger/anal penetration and object/vaginal penetration;
  • The complaint in this regard should be registered by the police and other authorities as offences under Section 375, 376 and 376A to 376D of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The petitioner tried to raise the issue that there is trend of the government authorities to treat sexual violence, other than penile/vaginal penetration, as lesser offences falling under either Section 377 or 354 of the IPC and not as a sexual offence under Section 375/376 IPC. Further, it had been found that offences such as sexual abuse of minor children and women by penetration other than penile/vaginal penetration, which would take any other form and could also be through use of objects whose impact on the victims is in no manner less than the trauma of penile/vaginal penetration as traditionally understood under Section 375/376, had been treated as offences tailing under Section 354 of the IPC as outraging the modesty of a women or under Section 377 IPC as unnatural offenses.

It further argued that the narrow understanding and application of rape under Section 375/376 IPC only to the cases of penile/vaginal penetration runs contrary to the existing contemporary understanding of rape as an intent to humiliate, violate and degrade a woman or child sexually and, therefore, adversely affects the sexual integrity and autonomy of women and children in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

The court finally gave following guidelines regarding trial of sexual abuse/assault/rape cases:

(1) The provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 327 CrPC (in camera trial) shall, in addition to the offences mentioned in the sub-section, would also apply in inquiry or trial of offences under Sections 354(assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 377 (unnatural offences) IPC.

(2) In holding trial of child sex abuse or rape:

(i) a screen or some such arrangements may be made where the victim or witnesses (who may be equally vulnerable like the victim) do not see the body or face of the accused;

(ii) the questions put in cross-examination on behalf of the accused, in so far as they relate directly to the incident should be given in writing to the Presiding Officer of the Court who may put them to the victim or witnesses in a language which is clear and is not embarrassing;

(iii) the victim of child abuse or rape, while giving testimony in court, should be allowed sufficient breaks as and when required.

These directions were given in addition to those given in State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh. The Parliament,the SC aspired herein that, would give serious attention to the points highlighted by the petitioner and make appropriate legislation with all the promptness which it deserves.

Sakshi v UOI

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