Rape on woman's dead body not offence under Section 375 IPC; high time Central government makes necrophilia an offence: Karnataka High Court

Team SoOLEGAL 1 Jun 2023 3:50pm

Rape on woman's dead body not offence under Section 375 IPC; high time Central government makes necrophilia an offence: Karnataka High Court

New Delhi: The Karnataka High Court recently ruled that raping a woman's dead body (necrophilia) does not constitute rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A bench of Justices B Veerappa and Venkatesh Naik also stated that it would not fall under the purview of unnatural offences under Section 377 of IPC.

"A careful reading of Sections 375 and 377 of IPC makes it clear that a dead body cannot be called a human or person. Therefore, the provisions of Section 375 or 377 would not be attracted," the Court stated.

Thus, it declared that it is high time for the Central Government to amend the IPC to include necrophilia as a crime or add a new penal provision to criminalize necrophilia.

The Court ruled, “The Central Government is hereby recommended to amend the provisions of the IPC as stated supra in order to protect the dignity of the body of the deceased in order to ensure to protect persons right of life includes right of his dead body as contemplated under Article 21 of the Constitution of India within a period of 6 (six) months from the date of receipt of certified copy of this order.”

In order to stop crimes against a woman's dead body, the Court further ordered the State government to make sure CCTV cameras are installed in all government mortuaries and private hospitals.

Additionally, the State was tasked with upholding mortuary hygienic standards, guaranteeing mortuary privacy and confidentiality, removing infrastructure obstacles, and sensitizing mortuary staff.

An appeal against an order from the Sessions Court convicting the appellant of murder and rape of a 21-year-old woman was being heard by the court.

The appellant argued that according to the prosecution, the victim was first murdered before being subjected to sexual assault on the corpse. As a result, the Section 376 offence would not be considered.

Furthermore, it was argued that the accused's actions were nothing more than necrophilia and that since the IPC does not contain a specific provision that would allow for the accused's conviction, he should be acquitted.

Considering these arguments, the Court had to decide whether raping a dead woman would constitute rape in accordance with Section 375 of the IPC.

The Court carefully read Sections 375 (rape) and 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC to examine this. It was determined that neither of the two would apply to the case's facts.

It is not rape, as defined by Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. The Indian Penal Code's Section 376 does not establish an offence that justifies punishment for what is, at most, considered sadism and necrophilia.

This is where it was determined that the Sessions Judge's conviction was incorrect and was overturned.

However, the discovery of a blood-stained weapon and clothes in the appellant's home along with the absence of an adequate defence to the evidence leading to the conviction for murder led to the conviction of the appellant.

"The material on record clearly establish that, based on aforesaid circumstances the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that accused is guilty of homicidal death of deceased and the evidence on record is consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of accused", the Court said in its decision.

Thus, it was confirmed that the accused person was guilty of murder. Also, the Court noted that the dignity of a dead person's body must be maintained and respected.

It was suggested that the State should make sure that such crimes don't occur. However, the Court ruled that no specific legislation has been passed in India, not even under the IPC's provisions, to uphold the rights and protect the dignity of a woman's dead body.

With these observations, the government was urged to review the law, and the court's registrar general was instructed to send copies of the judgment to the Central and State governments.

Tagged: Rape   Woman  
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