Report No. 64
"(aa) 'corrective institution means an institution, by whatever name called, in which women and girls, who are in need of correction, may be detained under this Act, being an institution established or licensed as such under section 21, and includes a shelter where female under trials may be kept in pursuance of this Act."
4.8. Section 2(b), 2(b) defines "girl" as a female under the age of 21 years. There is a suggestion that1 there does not appear to be any rational justification, in the present stage of social development, in not treating a girl who has completed the age of 18 years as a woman. It has, therefore, been suggested that section 2(b) may be amended by defining "girl" as a female who has not completed the age of 18 years. This will require a consequential amendment of section 2(j), and section 2(j) may be amended to describe "woman" as a female who has completed the age of 18 years. We have considered the suggestion carefully, but are not inclined to accept it, as girls between 18 and 21 years also require protection. We may also not that the distinction between "woman" and "girl" becomes material2 only in sections 15(4), 16(1) and 17(1), which are confined to "girls". The other sections use both the expressions.
1. S. No. 46 (15th October, 1974) (suggestion of the Department of Social Welfare).
2. See Appendix 2.
The question whether the age should be reduced to 18 years, as has been suggested, is one of policy. Before making the change, the Convention in pursuance of which the Act was passed also may have to be studied. Hence, we are of the view that the matter should be left to the Department. There is no provision in the Act using only the expression "woman", except the definition of "woman". The provisions containing only the expression "girl" are quoted below:-
"15(4). The special police officer entering any premises under sub-section (1) shall be entitled to remove therefrom any girl, if in his opinion she is under the age of twenty-one years and is carrying on or is being made to carry on, or attempts are being made to make her carry on prostitution."
"16(1). Where a magistrate has reason to believe, from information received from the police or otherwise, that a girl apparently under the age of twenty-one years, is living, or is carrying on, or is being made to carry on prostitution, in a brothel, he may direct the special police officer to enter such brothel, and to remove therefrom such girl and produce her before him."
"17(1). When the special police officer removing a girl under sub-section (4) of section 15 or rescuing a girl under sub-section (1) of section 16, fails to produce her immediately before the magistrate as required by sub-section (5) of section 15 or sub-section (2) of section 16, he shall forthwith produce her before the nearest magistrate of any class, who shall pass such orders as he deems proper for her safe custody until she is produced before the appropriate magistrate."
It may also be stated that when section 366AB, I.P.C., was enacted by Act 20 of 1923, to give effect to certain Articles of the International Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children and signed by various nations at Paris on May 4, 1910, a reservation was made. The material articles of the Convention ran as follows:-
"Article 1-Whoever, in order to gratify the passions of another person, has procured, enticed, or led away, even with her consent, a woman or girl under-age, for immoral purposes, shall be punished, notwithstanding that the various acts constituting the offence may have been committed in different countries.
Article 2-Whoever, in order to gratify the passions of another person, has, by fraud, or by means of violence, threats, abuse of authority, or any other method of compulsion, procured, enticed, or led away a woman or girl over-age, for immoral purposes, shall also be punished notwithstanding that the various acts constituting the offence may have been committed in different countries.
Article 3-The contracting parties whose legislation may not at present be sufficient to deal with offences contemplated by the two preceding Articles engage to take or to propose to their respective legislatures the necessary steps to punish these offences according to their gravity.1"
1. Gazette of India for 1922, Pt. V, p. 343.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Bill which led to the amendment Act runs as under:-
"The principles in this International Convention were endorsed in the International Convention regarding the Traffic in Women and Children which was adopted by the Second Assembly of the League of Nations. In Article 1 of this Convention it is provided that the High Contracting Parties, in the event of their not being already parties to the International Convention of May 4, 1910, shall transmit with the least possible delay their ratifications of or adhesions to, that instrument in the manner laid down therein. Further, the term "under-age" which did mean under 20 completed years of age, according to paragraph B of the final Protocol of the Convention of 1910 is now interpreted as meaning under 21 completed years of age by virtue of the provisions of Article 5 of the International Convention, adopted by the second Assembly of the League of Nations.
"In view of the resolutions adopted by the Council of State on January 31, 1922, and by the Legislative Assembly on February 7, 1922, the International Convention adopted by the Second Assembly of the League of Nations was signed at Geneva on behalf of the Government of India by His Majesty's Minister at Berne on March 28, 1922, with the following reservation:
"India reserves the right of its discretion to substitute the age of sixteen years or any greater age that may be subsequently decided upon for the age limit prescribed in paragraph B of the final Protocol of the Convention of May 4, 1910, and in Article 5 of the present Convention.1"
It is not-known whether a similar reservation was made in regard to the Convention of 1950.
1. Gazette of India for 1922, Pt. V, p. 343.