New Delhi: A Delhi court on Tuesday wanted the legislature to redefine the offence of rape while sentencing a youngster to 10 years in jail for assaulting an 80-year-old woman in 2011.
"This case sounds a wake-up call for Indian legislators to step in and think about having a re-look at the definition of rape so as to specifically include the instances of digital rape/male rape and make the offence gender neutral or to formulate a separate exhaustive legislation covering all categories of cases of sexual assault similar to legislations abroad," said Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau.
The court, which convicted the youngster for committing the offence of unnatural sex, termed the assault of the destitute old woman as an incident covered in the category of "digital rape" and sought recasting of laws to include such incidents.
Such offences be made "gender neutral", it said while holding 19-year-old Pahlad guilty of abduction, forcing the woman into an illicit intercourse against the order of the nature, attempt to murder and digital rape.
Terming the case as an "eye opener", the court said it was time for the legislature to take a serious note of the extent of depravation which exists in Indian urban society, victims of which are usually children and senior citizens being easy targets.
The judgment came in a case of "digital rape" of an old woman by Pahlad on the intervening night of May 19-20 last year when she was sleeping in a shed in a park at Tri Nagar in Delhi.
The convict asked the victim to accompany him. On being refused, he forcibly took her to bushes in a nearby park and sexually assaulted her with a wooden stick.
The police said the elderly victim had been abandoned by her family and she used to live in Tri Nagar where local residents who used to give her food.
It said that on the following morning after the incident, some passerby saw the unconscious woman in a critical condition and took her to the hospital.
The court said there is a need for a re-look at the existing law and for inclusion of "digital rape" within the definition of rape.
"There is growing demand the world over for inclusion of digital rape/male rape within the definition of rape and the fact that it is cases like the present one which sometimes reflects the institutional helplessness in appropriately dealing with the crime on account of the lag in law," it said.
It also directed Delhi government to pay a compensation of Rs50,000 to the victim who is living in an old-age home at Dwarka and directed the amount should be used for her welfare as she requires constant medical assistance.
The judge said the penal provision for unnatural offence, to a large extent, cover cases of offence committed against order of nature but technically its applicability was limited and by operation it becomes difficult to include certain category of cases where the offence has been committed by the offender with an object.
"It is only to cover all kinds of penetrations without a person's consent in any manner that the need for a re-look at the existing laws has been necessitated," the court said.
It said the cause of such sexual assault could be the "X-rated material easily available in market and on internet".