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Indian govt asked to criminalize raping dead body

An accused charged with raping dead body of a 21-year-old girl went scotfree for want of law against necrophilia in India
Activists of the Student Federation of India (SFI) hold placards during a protest against the alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl, in New Delhi on Aug. 4, 2021

Activists of the Student Federation of India (SFI) hold placards during a protest against the alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl, in New Delhi on Aug. 4, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 08, 2023 12:10 PM GMT
Updated: June 09, 2023 03:31 AM GMT

A southern Indian state’s top court has recommended the federal government frame a law to make raping a dead body a punishable offense after acquitting an accused for want of such a law.

A division bench of Justices B Veerappa and Venkatesh Naik of the Karnataka High Court on May 30 recommended the federal government, led by the pro-Hindu party, to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to make raping a dead body (necrophilia) a punishable offense.

The court was hearing the case of a man charged with murdering a woman and raping her corpse.

Although he was acquitted of rape, the court convicted him of murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

“Glad that the judges have recommended amending the IPC to include sex offense against the dead as a crime,” said Father George Kannanthanam, national secretary of the Catholic Health Association of India.

Father Kannanthanam, based in Karnataka state capital Bengaluru, told UCA News on June 8 that he was hopeful that the federal government will enact a law to check such heinous crimes as laws are already prevalent in other countries.”

The accused, according to the prosecution, killed a 21-year-old woman slitting her throat in June 2015 and then allegedly sexually assaulted the corpse in Tumakuru district of Karnataka.

The trial court convicted him of rape and murder, but the convict appealed against the order on the plea that there was no law in the country to punish him for the alleged rape (necrophilia) of the dead body.

Though the prosecution opposed it citing Section 377 of the IPC that deals with unnatural offenses, the court, however, agreed with the appellant’s contentions and acquitted him.

 “Though it is an unnatural offense, as defined under Section 377 of the IPC, unfortunately, the said provision does not include the term 'dead body,’” the court said in its order.

Govind Yadav, an advocate in the Supreme Court, the top court in the country, agreed with the High Court's recommendation.

“Once the law is amended there will be no confusion and no such criminals can escape from punishment by taking advantage of the grey areas of the law,” he told UCA News on June 8.

The court recommended the federal government amend the provisions of Section 377 of the IPC to include the dead body of any man, woman, or animal or to introduce a separate provision as necrophilia or sadism has been dealt with in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.

“The fact that a dead body does not have feelings cannot be a reason to acquit anyone,” observed Father Kannanthanam.

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