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Supreme Court declines plea for gender-neutral rape law

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking to make rape, sexual harassment, molestation gender-neutral.

As per a media reports, while dismissing the plea, the bench concluded that the provisions under the IPC were meant to safeguard, the rights of women and that only the Parliament could change the law.

The lawyer, Rishi Malhotra had knocked the doors of the apex court last month seeking to declare the offences of rape, sexual assault, outraging of modesty, voyeurism and stalking in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as gender-neutral.

Malhotra, in his petition filed before the top court three-judge bench, asked to make the crime of rape gender-neutral and punish a woman, who is involved in such crimes.

“Do not to discriminate against men by only making him an accused in a rape case,” he pleaded.

However, the bench opined that the Parliament had recognized a degree of harm against women, in light of which the laws have been framed. Justice DY Chandrachud, who was also on the bench, said, “Similarly, in sexual harassment instances, Parliament felt it is the woman who is the victim and accordingly has recommended the law to deal with it.”

When Malhotra reasoned that certain provisions of the law indicate that the crimes under the related provisions in the IPC can only be committed by an accused identified as ‘man’ and the victim would always be a “woman”, the bench questioned if he had ever come across a case where a woman had been accused of stalking another woman.

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