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

Personal Liberty

  1. The Bombay Habitual Offenders Act, 1959.

Free Speech/Expression

  1. S. 124A, IPC (Sedition)
  2. S. 153A, IPC (promoting disharmony between groups)
  3. S. 295A, IPC (insulting religious sentiments)
  4. S. 66A, IT Act


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.



  1. S. 377, IPC (sexual intercourse against the order of nature)
  2. S. 375, Exception (marital rape exception)
  3. S. 9, Hindu Marriage Act (restitution of conjugal right)

6 thoughts on “Regressive Laws”

  1. 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.

  2. The Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act?

  3. 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.


  5. DharyaTheWanderer said:

    I think 377 should be removed from this list, post Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, since it has made the law not applicable to consensual sex between adults in private.

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