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Widen definition of rape for stringent punishment: HC

india Updated: May 03, 2009 12:20 IST

Concerned with the lesser sentences given to culprits committing sexual assault of different forms due to absence of a stricter law, Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to consider the Law Commission report and include "digital rape" while widening the definition of rape.

"Unfortunately the criminal law of our country does not recognise this form (digital rape) of sexual assault as a heinous crime. As a result, the culprit gets convicted for use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of a woman," Justice S Muralidhar observed.

Digital rape is inserting finger into the victim's private part.

"It is a matter of grave concern that nothing has been done till date...Absence of stringent law to deal with impunity," the court said.

The court made the observation while dismissing an appeal filed by 54-year-old Tara Dutt, father of four daughters, who was convicted of committing digital rape on a five-year-old relative in 1996.

"The growing instances in the recent past of sexual assault of minors, should serve as a wake up call to make the appropriate amendments to the IPC without further delay," Muralidhar observed while suggesting that legislators comply with the Law Commission report submitted nine years ago.

The High Court directed to send a copy of its judgement on the case to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Law and Justice and the Tihar Jail Superintendent for their perusal.

On June 7, 1996 evening, Dutt had forced his fingers into the private parts of a five-year-old daughter of his relative, when her mother, a domestic help, was away for work.

Initially, police booked Dutt on charge of rape (the maximum punishment would be life sentence) but later the trial court converted the offence into outrage of modesty and sentenced to the maximum punishment of two years' jail term by the trial court.