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Report No. 156

Working Session II: Changing facets of sexual offences and Offences against Privacy

The Session commenced with introduction by Shri K.T.S. Tulsi, Senior Advocate. The session was presided over by Justice Dr. A.S. Anand, Judge, Supreme Court of India.

Justice Anand observed that section 155(4) of the Evidence Act needs to be suitably amended because even a woman of past immoral character has a right not to be sexually abused/assaulted. He also laid emphasis on camera trial and suggested that camera trial should be mandatory, particularly in cases involving sexual abuses and that every police station should have a lady officer for investigating a case against a female accused. He further stated that it should be ensured that tapping of telephone, bed-room searches, unauthorised photography, etc., do not in any way invade privacy.

Shri Harish Salve, Senior Advocate observed that common law does not adequately protect the privacy and that the scope of proposed new section 490 needs to be broadened as it at present does not extensively cover all situations and that provision contained in section 492 virtually renders the right to privacy under sections 490 and 491 nugatory. He also emphasised en the need to have a thorough examination of the matter.

Mrs. Padma Seth, Member, National Commission for Women, stated that dignity of women between four walls needs to be protected and that there should be adequate provisions to prevent domestic violence against women. She also suggested that in the new section 74C (clause 27) proposed to be inserted in the I.P.C. (Amendment) Bill, 1978 should also cover the offences of rape

Mr. Justice C. Thakkar, Judge, Gujarat High Court while intervening stated that the provisions of the proposed new section 492 does not in any way render the provisions of sections 490 and 491 meaningless as the proposed section 492 covers only acts done in good faith. However, there was another view that proposed section 492 virtually and completely nullifies proposed new sections 490 and 491.

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