Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013

Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 is an ordinance promulgated by the President of India on 3rd Feb, 2013 which provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on laws related to sexual offences.

The background to the amendment is the huge outcry and protest by masses post 16th Dec incident. This amendments have taken most of the recommendations based on Justice Verma Committee. The cabinet ministry approved it for bringing it to be an ordinance.

Newer changes implemented:

326A : Acid attack - it is a gender neutral law and punishment may extent to life imprisonment and a fine up to Rs. 10 lacs
326B: Attempt to Acid Attack - it is a gender neutral law and punishment is not less than 5 years and may have a fine.
354A: Sexual Assault: it is gender neutral and rigorous imprisonment upto 5 years and may have a fine. Specific clauses are mentioned to describe the offence.
354B: Public disrobing of woman: ( obviously not gender neutral ) punishment with imprisonment and fine. Compelling a woman to get disrobed is also an offense described in this.
354C: Voyeurism: Definition is critical  " Watching or capturing a woman in “private act”, which includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy, and where the victim's genitals, buttocks or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the person is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public."Graded punishment for repetitive offenses.
354D: Stalking: Imprisonment from one year to three year with/without fine.

Section 370 of Indian Penal Code is substituted with 370, 370A which deal in human trafficking. Employment of a trafficked person will attract penal action.

The most important change that has been made is the change in definition of rape under IPC. The word rape has been replaced with sexual assualt in Section 375, and have added penetration other than penile penetration an offence. The definition is broadly worded and gender neutral in some aspect.

A new section, 376A has been added which states that if a person committing the offence of sexual assault, "inflicts an injury which causes the death of the person or causes the person to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.

Certain changes has been introduced in the CrPC and Evidence Act, like the recording of statement of the victim, more friendly and easy, character of the victim is irrelevant, presumption of no consent where sexual intercourse is proved and the victim states in the court that there has been no consent, etc.
These are brief notes to understand the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013.