Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code 1860-Rape is classified as a type of sexual assault in many countries. Previously, it was thought to be caused by an overwhelming sexual desire, but it now appears to be caused by a persistent assertion of power over the victim. On being interviewed, the majority of the perpetrators have testified that they committed rape upon the victim because they seemed to talk rudely to them, were out partying late at night (which they considered outrageous on part of the women), or simply to “show the woman her place”, in their words.

What is rape

Rape is an illegal sexual activity that involves sexual intercourse against the victim’s will, either by force or threat of force, or against someone who is unable to give consent due to mental illness, intoxication, deception, or unconsciousness

According to Section 375 of IPC, the act of penetrating is sufficient to be considered sexual intercourse, and if such penetration is forced, it will be termed as rape. In Sakshi v. Union of India (2004), the Supreme Court affirmed the concept of rape, ruling that only heterosexual intercourse, such as vaginal and penial penetration, is rape. The Court explained that, while there are numerous forms of sexual abuse that are horrific in character, not every sexual offence can be termed rape.

Punishment for rape (Section 376 IPC)

The punishment for rape has been provided under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Section prescribes a sentence for rape in the form of imprisonment of either description which lasts up to at least 7 years, but may extend to 10 years or life imprisonment (detention till the person dies a natural death in the prison), and the convict is also liable to pay fine.


If the rape is committed by a husband on his wife while they were separated, and the wife was above 12 years of age, the husband will be awarded imprisonment of either description upto 2 years, or he will be charged with a fine, or he will be liable with both. 


The offence committed under Section 375 which is punished under Section 376 of the IPC is cognizable in nature. A cognizable offence is one in which a police officer, can arrest a suspect without a warrant and begin an investigation without the court’s consent. Murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, dowry death, and other horrific or serious crimes are examples of cognizable offences. Only cognizable offences generate a First Information Report (FIR).


The offence under Section 376 is non-bailable in nature, i.e., bail is not a matter of right for the accused, which is the case in bailable offences. The judge shall only grant bail to the accused if he deems it fit for the case.

The offence of rape can be tried in any court of law within the territory of India.
After the terrible Delhi Gang Rape Case (Nirbhaya Rape Case) in 2013, the rape laws were changed. The widespread agitation over the violent gang rape in the capital city, which ultimately resulted in the death of the physiotherapy intern, was the driving cause for the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013. 

The Act broadened the definition of “Rape” as defined in Section 375 of the IPC. Earlier, the minimum number of years for the punishment of rape was not mentioned in the Section, which has now been changed and stands as follows: 

Subsection 1 addresses the punishment for rape of a woman in all circumstances other than those listed in Section 376(2). In such circumstances, the punishment was rigorous imprisonment for a period of not less than 7 years, which might be extended to life imprisonment and a fine.

Subsection 2 addresses the penalties for the rape of a woman by police officials, public servants, members of the armed forces, and others. The punishment is a minimum of ten years in jail, with the possibility of life imprisonment (i.e., imprisonment for the rest of his life) and a fine. 

Changes introduced by the Criminal Law Act, 2013 in Section 376 IPC

The Justice Verma Committee was established to gather proposals for the legislature’s consideration in developing a legal framework to address rape and other crimes against women. In a short period of time, the Committee received approximately 80,000 recommendations on which to deliberate. Activists, lawyers, NGOs, and other members of the so-called “civil society” sent these recommendations. The proposals were made as an ordinance because the legislature had adjourned, preventing the introduction of the amended Act. The crime of rape was given a broader definition under the ordinance, which included any sort of penetration, including any area of the victim’s body.

There are 14 circumstances in which the penalty for rape must be at least ten years in jail and may include imprisonment for the rest of the accused’s natural life or death.

  • Rape by a police officer.
  • Rape by a public servant.
  • Rape by armed force personnel.
  • Rape by the management or staff of a jail, remand home.
  • Rape by the management or staff of a hospital.
  • Rape by a relative, guardian or teacher.
  • Rape during communal or sectarian violence.
  • Rape of pregnant women.
  • Rape of a woman under sixteen.
  • Rape of a woman incapable of giving consent.
  • Committing rape being in a position of control and dominance over a woman.
  • Rape of a woman suffering from mental or physical disability.
  • While committing rape causes grievous harm or maims or disfigures or endangers the life of a woman.
  • Commits rape repeatedly on the same woman.

Section 376A of IPC

Punishment for causing death or putting the person into a vegetative state. In situations under section 376 A, the sentence must be at least 20 years, although it can be increased to life imprisonment. It is a non-bailable and cognizable offence that can be tried in the Court of Session.

Section 376B of IPC

This Section outlines the consequences of a husband having sexual relations with his wife when separated. A husband cannot be found guilty of rape against his wife under general principles. Marriage is a relationship in which both the husband and wife are able to use their marital rights. Sexual intercourse by the husband without her agreement is punishable under this Section when the woman lives separately from her husband under a judicial separation decision. Under these instances, sexual intercourse means the same thing as it does in Section 375 clauses (a) to (d). 

Section 376C of IPC

Sexual intercourse by a person in power is punishable under this Section. If a person in authority or under the influence of his power seduces or takes advantage of a woman, that person shall be held accountable for the offence under this Section. Sexual intercourse in these situations will not be considered rape, but will result in a sentence of not less than 5 years, with the possibility of a 10-year sentence and a fine. 

Section 376D of IPC

Gang rape offences are punishable under this Section. Gang rape occurs when a woman is raped by multiple people who all have the same aim to rape her. Offenders face a sentence of no less than 20 years in jail, with the possibility of being sentenced to life in prison. 

The Allahabad High Court has observed that a woman can not commit the offence of rape but if she facilitates the act of rape with a group of people then she may be prosecuted for 'Gang Rape' under Section 376D Of IPC in view of the amended provisions.Perusing the provisions of Section 375 and 376 (as amended by Act 13 of 2013 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860), the bench of Justice Shekhar.

Section 376E of IPC

Punishment for repeat offenders is defined in this Section. If a person has been previously convicted of an offence under Section 376, 376 A, or 376 D and commits the same offence again, he or she will be sentenced to life in prison. 





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