Infamous Rape Cases in India 2020

By Team Legal Helpline India, March 23, 2020

The law related to rape cases in India 2020 explained in brief by an expert criminal lawyer for the understanding of a common man supported by some infamous rape cases in India.

Rape is an unlawful sexual activity typically involving sexual intercourse done forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will. Rape is a worldwide problem.

In India, Rape has been defined in Section 375 of IPC which contemplates various acts which can be termed as rape. This definition has gone several amendments and is now wider to cover various acts of rape.

Section 375 in the Indian Penal Code:

375. Rape.—A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:

(First) — Against her will.

(Secondly) —Without her consent.

(Thirdly) — With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.

(Fourthly) —With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be law­fully married.

(Fifthly) — With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupe­fying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

(Sixthly) — With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age. Explanation.—Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.

(Exception) —Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape .

The punishment for rape  is given under Section 376 of IPC which has undergone several changes through time.

Section 376 Punishment for rape:

(1) Whoever, except in the cases provided for by sub-section (2), commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may be for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine unless the women raped is his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which cases, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both: Provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.

(2) Whoever,—

(a) being a police officer commits rape—

(i) within the limits of the police station to which he is appointed; or

(ii) in the premises of any station house whether or not situated in the police station to which he is appointed; or

(iii) on a woman in his custody or in the custody of a police officer subordinate to him; or

(b) being a public servant, takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on a woman in his custody as such public servant or in the custody of a public servant subordinate to him; or

(c) being on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force or of a woman’s or children’s institution takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on any inmate of such jail, remand home, place or institution; or

(d) being on the management or on the staff of a hospital, takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on a woman in that hospital; or

(e) commits rape on a woman knowing her to be pregnant; or

(f) commits rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age; or

(g) commits gang rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may be for life and shall also be liable to fine: Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment of either description for a term of less than ten years.

Explanation 1.—Where a woman is raped by one or more in a group of persons acting in furtherance of their common intention, each of the persons shall be deemed to have committed gang rape within the meaning of this sub-section.

Explanation 2.—“Women’s or children’s institution” means an institution, whether called an orphanage or a home for neglected woman or children or a widows’ home or by any other name, which is established and maintained for the reception and care of woman or children.

Explanation 3.—“Hospital” means the precincts of the hospital and includes the precincts of any institution for the reception and treatment of persons during convalescence or of persons requiring medical attention or rehabilitation.

For the understanding of a common man, Rape is when a person intentionally penetrates female’s vagina, anus or mouth with a penis, without her consent penetrates her vagina or anus with any part of the body other than a penis, or by using an object, without the person’s consent.

The overall definition of sexual or indecent assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without her consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts.

Not all cases of sexual assault involve violence, cause physical injury or leave visible marks. Sexual assault can cause severe distress, emotional harm and injuries which can’t be seen – all of which can take a long time to recover from. This is why we use the term ‘assault’, and treat reports just as seriously as those of violent, physical attacks.

In India, 1,27,800 rape cases are pending until 2017 and the conviction rate of rape is around 27%.

Rape is a social crime hence much hue and cry are made by society when any such case is reported.  Following are some of the infamous rape cases in India which lead to serious thoughts on the rape law and many protests in the society. 


  • November 1973: Aruna Shanbaug, a 26-year-old nurse in a Mumbai hospital, was attacked and raped by a ward attendant during her night shift by one Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, who sodomized and strangled her brutally leaving her in a coma. He was arrested and convicted but the victim Aruna Shanbaug remained in a vegetative state for more than 40 years and died in 2015.
  • 1990: Hetal Parekh, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, was raped and murdered by one Dhananjoy Chatterjee in Kolkata.  He was sentenced to death and hung in 2004. The case raised a lot of protests in society and remains in the minds of the people to date.
  • 1995: Bhanwari Devi,  who worked with the Women’s Development Project in Rajasthan, in 1992 was raped but the accused persons were freed by the court. This matter raised hue and cry and subsequently, a petition is filed in the Supreme Court, which leads to the Vishaka Guidelines being put into place, to protect women against sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • 1996: Priyadarshini Mattoo was found raped and strangled in her Delhi flat. Santosh Kumar Singh, a fellow law student, and son of a former senior police officer were sentenced to death, after being initially acquitted due to a lack of evidence and then re-tried following a public outcry.
  • Dec. 2012: Nirbhaya, a 23-year-old student is beaten and gang-raped on a moving bus in the capital New Delhi and later dies of her injuries. Five men and a juvenile are arrested – four of the men have been sentenced to death and one hanged himself during the trial. The juvenile was freed after completing three years in a reform home. All the convicts were hanged on 20/3/2020 at Tihar jail. This rape crime sparked large-scale protests in India and serious discussions on rape laws as a result of which rape law was amended and fast track cases were established. 
  • Jan. 2018: An 8-year-old Muslim girl is drugged, held captive in a temple and sexually assaulted for a week before being strangled and battered to death with a stone in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir raising serious political, religious and social issues. Six men, including a Hindu priest and three police officers, were convicted of the crime. Three were given life sentences.
  • Jul. 2018: Eighteen men are charged in Chennai with repeatedly raping a 12-year-old girl over a seven-month period, sedating her with drugs and then taking her to vacant apartments in the block to assault her.
  • Oct. 2018: Catholic bishop Franco Mulakkal is arrested in Kerala after a nun accuses him of raping her repeatedly over two years. He has denied the charges.
  • July 2019: A young woman who accused Uttar Pradesh Legislator  Kuldeep Singh Sengar of raping her in 2017 subsequently she and her lawyer were critically injured in a highway collision when a truck hit the car in which they were traveling.  Sengar was subsequently convicted by the court.
  • Nov. 28, 2019: The charred remains of the veterinarian are found under a flyover near Hyderabad. Four men are arrested on suspicion of gang-rape and murder and were subsequently killed in an encounter when they were trying to escape from police custody.
  • Dec 5, 2019: A 23-year-old rape victim is set ablaze by a gang of men, including the alleged rapist, as she made her way to court to attend a hearing in the case, in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, police said.

Discussion on Rape laws in India 2020

The official data related to rape is compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau by the Indian Government. As most of the rape cases go unreported, the actual number of rape cases happening can not be determined but the records of the reported cases of rape show an increase in rape cases in recent times.

This can be due to the reason that the cases are reported to the police now with the strengthening of the law and order and social awareness.

A notable step by the law government is the creation of the National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO). It was launched on September 20, 2018, launched the National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO). The database contains entries of offenders convicted under charges of rape, gang rape, POCSO, and eve-teasing.

The portal as of now contains 440,000 entries of cases that have been reported since 2008. It’s managed by the National Crime Records Bureau. The database is accessible only to law enforcement agencies for investigation and monitoring purposes.

The rape laws in India 2020 are thus now stringent and effective keeping in view the various cultural and social communities but the paradox is its prosecution which has gone down since last several years thus indicating that more cases are registered but fewer cases being prosecuted. The policymakers need special attention to this aspect as it is indicative of some trend that needs to be deciphered.

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