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Case Analysis of Tukaram v/s State of Maharashtra

Tukaram and others Vs. State of Maharashtra

Sections Related To The Case
The case was based on following sections
  1. Section 354 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.
  2. Section 375 of Indian Penal Code, 1860- RAPE

Citation: AIR 1979 SC 185
Court: Supreme Court of India
Bench: A.D. Koshal, Jaswant Singh and P.S. Kailasam.
  1. Appellants: Tukaram and others
  2. Respondent: State of Maharashtra

An adivasi girl named Mathura lived with her brother named Gama as her parents died at an early age. She was aged between 14 to 16 years. They belonged to a poor family so her brother worked as a labourer and she worked a maid in Nunshi's house, where she met Ashok (Nunshi's nephew). They developed a close relationship and they decided to marry each other, but Gama did not approved their relationship. So Mathura eloped with Ashok.

This made Gama to go local Police station Desai Gunj and lodged a complain on 26 March 1972 alleging that Mathura, a minor was kidnapped by Ashok and his family, the report was recorded by Head Constable Baburao. Mathura, Gama, Ashok and his family members was called for investigation (at 09:00 pm). When their statements were recorded (by 10:00 pm) Baburao asked them to leave and he also left for his house.

As they all were leaving Constable Ganpat asked Mathura to stay behind while her relatives were told to wait outside. He sexually assaulted her by looking at her private parts and then raped her behind the Police Station.

Head Constable Tukaram also assaulted her by touching her private parts but he was not able to rape her due to high intoxication.
When Mathura came out, she told everyone about the incident. After that she was medical examined by Dr. Kamal Shastrakar. The medical report stated that there are no bodily injuries but semen was found on her clothes. On advice of Dr. Kamal Mathura filed an FIR against the two police constables.

  • Whether the appellants Constable Ganpat and Head Constable Tukaram are liable for punishment under sec 376 of Indian Penal Code?
  • Whether Constable Ganpat and Head Constable Tukaram are liable for offence under sec 354 of Indian Penal Code?
  • Can a minor girl give consent for such act?
  • Was the act consented or passive submission due to fear by the girl?

Session Court

On 1st June 1974 the case came on hearing in the Session Court. The honorable Judges of Session court acquitted the accused stating that it was consensual sexual intercourse not rape. They said that Mathura was habituated to sexual intercourse, they also said that there are chances that intercourse happened between Mathura and Ganpat, but it was consensual as there was not injury on her body. Stating that there is difference between Sexual Intercourse and Rape. They also added that Tukaram fondled her because she was habitual to sexual intercourse. According to Section 375(6) of IPC sex with women below 16 years of age with or without her consent is assault. The court said that evidence of Mathura's age is insufficient. Hence, they held that both of appellants are innocent, and prosecution has failed to prove the case against them.

Bombay High Court
The honorable Judges of High Court differentiated between consent and passive submission. It held that ae very less chance of Mathura's consent as appellants were strangers and it was very unlikely to consider that Mathura would willing let appellant to have sexual intercourse with her. They also stated that how can a tribal girl fight against appellants of middle age and who have dominating and powerful position and this is not consent. It also held that passive submission due to threat of injury could not be consider consent for a willing sexual intercourse.

They also stated that Tukaram did not committed rape but the act committed by him is sexual assault. The court also held that absence of medical could be because medical examiner took place after 20 hours of the incident and there are high possibilities that she had taken bath between the time. Hence the High Court convicted the accused and sentenced appellant Tukaram 1 year of imprisonment while appellant Ganpat was sentenced 5 years of imprisonment.

Supreme Court
In September 1979 the Supreme Court of India in their judgement on Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra overruled the judgement of Bombay High Court and acquitted the accused. The Supreme Court held that there are 'no marks of bodily injury' thus proving that there was no resistance for the act performed by accused, hence its was consensual sexual intercourse not rape. The Court also pointed out that Mathura did not raise any alarm against the crime hence it clarifies that she willing submitted herself to the accused.

As per for sec 375(3) the court said that it was not consent due to threat of injury as she willing entered inside the police station leaving her family outside. For sec 375(2) it was held that she did not even cry for help or resisted hence the act committed was done with her consent. Hence declaring Mathura as 'Habitual to sex'. Supreme Court acquitted the accused and sentence given by Bombay High Court was put aside.

After The Case
After the Judgement of Supreme Court four law professors Upendra Baxi, Lotika Sarkar, Raghunath Kelkar and Vasudha Dhagamwar wrote an open letter to the Supreme Court of India questioning the judgement of Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra stating that how can the supreme court of expect a 14-16 year old girl to raise alarm for help against two policemen, who trapped inside the police station. Does it expect a girl who works as a maid to preform hard resistance against two well-built policemen so there are sufficient marks of bodily injury. Is the absence of those marks indicates that there was no resistance to such an act?

Even after such large-scale opposition to judgement the Supreme Court did not change their verdict and stated th.t there are no laws in favor of Mathura.

Certain major amendments were made after the judgement:
Section 114(A) was added to Evidence Act which said that if the victim says that she did not consent to the sexual intercourse, the Court shall presume that she did not consent.
Section 376(A), Section 376(B), Section 376(C), Section 376(D) in IPC were also added which made custodial rape punishable.

Besides defining custodial rape, the amendment shifted the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused once intercourse was established; it also added provisions for in-camera trials, the prohibition on the victim identity disclosure and tougher sentences.

This incident was also known as custodial rape, where a girl of 14 to 16 years of age was raped by two police officer inside the police station.

Even though the rape law and law related protection of women kept changing but the mentality of the society never changed it only looked over the bodily injury or physical harm as it was highlighted in this case. Rape a heinous crime does not only leaves physical injury but also leaves severe mental issues like depression, lack of sleep, flashback and many more.

This case mainly highlighted the fact that if there are no bodily injury then the act will not be considered as rape or assault. The case was considered as major turning point regarding protection of women even after that the cases of rape and assault kept on increasing year by year.

Increasing women's security and improving the mentality of society toward women for their well-being in the State is one step towards ending such heinous crime. More stringent regulations should be passed to punish such offenders.

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