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Karnataka High Court Rules That Necrophilia Or Sadism Cannot Be Held As Sexual Offences Or Unnatural Offences As Defined Under Sections 375 And 377 Of The Indian Penal Code

Diya Pradeep ,
  06 June 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
Karnataka High Court
Brief :

Citation :
CRIMINAL APPEAL No.1610/2017

Case title:

Rangaraju Vajapeyi vs State Of Karnataka

Date of Order:

30 May 2023

Bench:

B.Veerappa, Venkatesh Naik T

Parties:

Appellant – Rangaraju Vajapeyi

Respondent – State of Karnataka

SUBJECT

The Indian Penal Code of 1860 was the first and most important criminal procedure code passed in the British Indian Empire. It came into force in 1860 and is still in effect in India. It is a comprehensive code, intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law. The case at hand deals with two of the most crucial provisions of the code, Section 302 and Section 376. Murder and rape are defined under the above-mentioned sections of the act and can be regarded as the most serious offenses committed against a person, his body, and his dignity. Although these heinous crimes receive recognition under various laws of the land, necrophilia, a crime that degrades the dignity of a corpse is yet to be recognized in India. Necrophilia, also known as necrophilism or thanatophilia, is a sexual attraction to corpses. It is classified as paraphilia, which is a condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires. This behavior is considered a psychological disorder and is illegal in most countries.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • Section 302
  • Section 375
  • Section 376
  • Section 377

OVERVIEW

  • The victim of this case, 21-year-old Rathnamma had joined computer classes in Badavanahalli.
  • On 25.06.2015 Rathnamma went to classes as usual but did not return home even though it was evening.
  • Later on, the victim’s brother and his uncle's son discovered Rathnamma's dead body near Doddahalla. The incident was believed to have taken place around 3 pm-5 pm.
  • The accused was caught after an investigation by the jurisdictional police.
  • The matter was referred to the learned Sessions Judge who framed and charged the accused with offenses punishable under Sections 302 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • After considering the evidence, the session’s judge convicted the accused of murder and rape of the victim. The court sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.50,000/-
  • Aggrieved by the decision of the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Tumakuru, the appellant filed the present petition before the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court under Section 374(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

ISSUES RAISED

  • Is the criminal appeal filed by the accused interfering with the impugned judgment of conviction convicting him for the offense punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code maintainable?
  • Does rape on the dead body of a woman constitute an offense punishable under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT

Sri C.H.Hanumantharaya learned counsel along with Ms Abhinaya K and Sri K.V.Manoj represented the appellant in the present case.

  • The counsels asserted that the impugned order by the session’s court is erroneous and not maintainable.
  • It was submitted before the Hon’ble court that the involvement of the accused in the homicidal death of the deceased is doubtful due to the delay of 7 days in arresting him.
  • It was further submitted that the entire prosecution case is based on circumstantial evidence that cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt and there are no eyewitnesses to the incident.
  • The counsel further contended that the accused had no motive to commit the offenses of murder or rape on the dead body and hence the offenses under sections 302, 376, 377 would not be attracted against him.
  • It was urged before the Hon’ble Court that the accused's actions are nothing but necrophilia, which has no specific provisions under the Indian Penal Code. Therefore, the appeal should be allowed in favor of the accused.
  • Reliance was placed on the cases Kozhipalliyalil Muhammad vs. State [1974 Crl.LJ 204], Navtej Singh Johar vs. Union of India [(2018) 10 SCC 1], Subhash Chand vs. State of Rajasthan [(2002) 1 SCC 702].

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE SPP

  • Sri Kiran S. Javali and Sri Vijayakumar Majage, the learned Additional State Public Prosecutor, argued on behalf of the deceased victim.
  • The counsel first contended that the accused were found with injuries in his body but no explanations were provided as to how he sustained them.
  • It was asserted that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is behind the murder and rape of the victim. This is owing to the DNA samples, blood samples, and external injuries to the victim made clear by the post-mortem report.
  • The counsel submitted that the session’s judge was right in his decision to convict the accused under section 376 of the IPC, as rape on a dead body attracts the particular provision.
  • Reliance was placed on the cases of M.K. Ranganathan vs. Govt. of Madras, [AIR 1955 SC 604], RBI vs. Peerless General Finance & Investment Co. Ltd [(1987) 1 SCC 424], Surendra Koli vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and others, [(2011) 4 SCC 80].

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • The Karnataka High Court allowed the appeal in part and set aside the impugned order convicting the accused under Section 376, IPC passed by the Principal District and Sessions Judge Tumakuru.
  • The court ruled that the accused can’t be held liable for the rape of a dead body as there is no provision in the IPC holding it as a punishable offense.
  • The bench consisting of Justice B. Veerappa, and Justice Venkatesh Naik T held that though section 377 of the IPC defines unnatural offenses, it does not include the term “dead body” and hence the act of rape on a dead body cannot be punished under the said provision.
  • The court viewed that “the essential of guilt of rape consists in the outrage of the person and feelings of a victim of the rape. A dead body has no feelings of outrage. The sexual intercourse on a dead body is nothing but necrophilia.”
  • The bench observed that sadism or necrophilia wouldn’t classify as an unnatural offense and the accused couldn’t be punished for it.
  • As a result of this, reliance was placed on the case of Parmanand Katara, Advocate vs. Union of India and another [(1995)3 SCC 248] to point out that the right to life given under article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes the right to his dead body.
  • Subsequently, directions were passed by the court to the central government for the implementation of laws protecting the dignity of the corpse.
  • Finally, the court reiterated that it’s the need of the hour to amend the provisions of Section 377 of the IPC and include separate provisions criminalizing necrophilia or sadism.

CONCLUSION

The Indian Penal Code is crucial to the Indian criminal justice system. It is the primary source of criminal law in India and the basis for criminal prosecution. However, the lack of specific laws recognizing and punishing heinous crimes such as necrophilia trivializes the monstrosity of the act as well as keeping it on par with the offense of murder and rape. The rights of the dead are an important consideration in many legal and ethical matters. It is imperative to ensure that the deceased are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. A mortifying act such as necrophilia demands separate and stringent laws punishing the perpetrators. Judgments such as the present one not only throw light upon the sad occurrence of this crime but also convey the shocking reality of our existing legal system and its need for change. 
 

 
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