The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday recommended that necessary legislative amendments must be brought in to include capital punishment for gangrape. The court’s recommendation came as it upheld the Bengaluru session court’s verdict, where seven men were convicted in the gangrape of a National Law School University of India student in 2012.
“In our considered opinion, now it is appropriate for the Legislature/Central Government in order to curb the menace of ‘gang rape’ against woman, the provisions of Section 376D of Indian Penal Code requires further amendment imposing punishment for death in addition to the existing provision of imprisonment for life,” the judgement passed by Justices B Veerappa and K Natarajan reads.
In its judgement, the court also recommended that lessons on gender equality must be made part of the school curriculum. The court noted that stringent punishment may not be enough to fight the increasing crimes against women.
“A child should be taught to respect women in the society in the same way as he is taught to respect men. Gender equality should be made a part of the school curriculum,” the court noted. The judgement also states that school teachers and parents should be trained to conduct regular “personality-building and skill enhancing exercises”, and also to watch behavioural patterns of the children “so as to make them gender sensitised.”
“The educational institutions, government institutions, the employers and all concerned must take steps to create awareness with regard to gender sensitisation and to respect women. Sensitisation of the public on gender justice through TV, and press should be welcomed,” the judgement reads.
The gangrape in 2012
On October 13, 2012, a Nepalese national, who had come to Bengaluru to study in NLSIU, was talking to her friend inside his car, which was parked near the forest area of the college. At the time, the seven men, who were holding iron rods, sickles and other weapons surrounded the car. One of them broke the glass of the left side window and dragged the woman out of the car by her hair. Her friend was tied up. She was taken to the forest area, beyond the storm water drain and gangraped.
The investigators found a handkerchief that the seven accused persons used, which had seminal stains. This proved to be crucial material evidence in convicting the seven men. In its judgement, the High Court rejected the accused’s appeal for leniency and upheld the life imprisonment awarded by the IX Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in 2015.
“Because of the ghastly incident committed by the accused on the victim girl, the law and order of the entire nation particularly Karnataka State is made responsible. Since the 'reputation of the Country is at stake', no lenience can be shown to the accused persons. Any misplaced sympathy to the accused comes in the way of upholding 'dignity of the court, majesty of law, traditions and cultures right from our ancient times,” the court said, while adding, “We, the judges are the societal parents. Our concern for the society of girls/women can be summed up in one sentence that ‘An attack on anybody’s daughter is an attack on our daughter’.”