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Report No. 156

IV. Unnatural Offences

9.48. Section 377 deals with unnatural offences like sodomy, buggery and bestiality. This section was amended in 1955 making the punishment more stringent to one of imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term up to ten years and fine. Section 377 reads as:

"Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years."

9.49. The Law Commission in its 42nd Report had recommended that cases of bestiality should be regarded as pathological manifestations to be ignored by the criminal law.

9.50. The Commission, however, felt that "Indian society, by and large, disapproves of homo-sexuality and this disapproval is strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offence even where adults indulge in it in private", and observed that "Buggery" may continue as an offence punishable less severely than at present but, where it is committed by an adult on a minor boy or girl, the punishment be higher. So the Commission had recommended that section 377 be revised as follows:-

"377. Buggery.-Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man or woman shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or with both, and where such offence is committed by a person over eighteen years of age with a person under that age, the imprisonment may extend to seven years.

Explanation.-Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section."

The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill (clause 160) has adopted the above recommendation of the Law Commission.

9.51. We recommend that in view of the growing incidence of child sexual abuse in the country, where unnatural offence is committed on a person under the age of eighteen years, here should be a minimum mandatory sentence of imprisonment of either description for a term not less than two years, but which may extend to seven years. The court shall, however, have discretion to reduce the sentence for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment. Consequently section 377 be amended on the following lines:-

"377. Unnatural offences.-Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man or woman shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both; and where such offence is committed by a person over eighteen years of age with a person under that age, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years but may extend to seven years and fine:

Provided that the court may for adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment of either description for a term of less than two years.

Explanation.-Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section."



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