Regressive Laws

On this page, we aim to list out the numerous regressive laws on India’s statute-books. Many – but by no means all – are colonial-era creations that continue to be used by a State now sixty-seven years a free, independent, democratic republic. Some are of comparatively recent origin. All run counter to what we believe are the essential values of democracy – free expression, non-discrimination, gender-equality, personal liberty and privacy, etc.

(To add to this list, please email gautambhatia1988@gmail.com)

Free Speech/Expression

1. S. 124A, IPC (Sedition)

What the Law says: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, 2[ the Government established by law in 3[ India], a 4[ shall be punished with 5[ imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

2. S. 153A(1)(a), IPC (promoting disharmony between groups)

What the Law says: Whoever – by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill- will between different religious, racials, language or regional groups or castes or communities… shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

3. S. 295A, IPC (insulting religious sentiments)

What the Law says: Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.

Source Material:

a. Neeti Nair, Beyond the Communal – tracks the history of this section, and the debates that accompanied its passage in 1927. Available here. E-mail gautambhatia1988@gmail.com for a copy if you don’t have access to the database.

4. S. 66A, IT Act

What the Law says: 

“Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,—
(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character;
(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device,
(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”

5. Intermediary Rules, 2011 (due diligence obligations of intermediaries)

What the Law says: Intermediaries are prohibited from publishing information that is “grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially,ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever.”

Gender/Sexuality

1. S. 377, IPC (sexual intercourse against the order of nature)

What the Law says: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 1[ imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

2. S. 375, Exception (marital rape exception)

What the Law says:  Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

3. S. 9, Hindu Marriage Act (restitution of conjugal right)

What the Law says: When either the husband or the wife has, without reasonable excuse, withdrawn from the society of the other, the aggrieved party may apply, by petition to the district court, for restitution of conjugal rights land the court, on being satisfied of the truth of the statements made in such petition and that there is no legal ground why the application should not be granted, may decree restitution of conjugal rights accordingly.

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4 responses to “Regressive Laws

  1. Pingback: New Pages on the Blog: A Summary | Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy

  2. Deepthi

    I’m glad to note that post the NALSA v. UOI decision, the extremely regressive The Andhra Pradesh (Telengana Area) Eunuchs Act, 1329 F (Act No XVI of 1329 F) has no place on this list.

    An excellent exposition of the same has been made in this article published in the EPW by Kalpana Kannabiran. p. 33-34.
    http://www.eledu.net/rrcusrn_data/The%20law%20gender%20and%20women.pdf

  3. ritwik

    The Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act?

  4. SGS

    Hi,

    Could you please elucidate in a new blog post or this one how S153(A) and 295(A) are substantially different from each other? I often see them slapped together in charge sheets.

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