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Custodial Rape: An Analysis

Tanu Mishra, University of Allahabad

“Rape is not Merley a physical assault it is often destructive of the whole personality of the victim, a murderer destroys the physical body of his victim, a rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female”

State of Punjab versus Gurmeet Singh


The term rape comprises of only 4 words however it has the devastating and long lasting physical,emotional and psychological effect. Rape can be defined as a non consensual sexual intercourse against the will of individual. It is against the bodily autonomy, dignity and fundamental human rights of individuals. As far as custodial rape is concerned it is special kind of crime wherein rape is committed by the custodian that is the person in authority.

Meaning of custodial rape

Custodial repres is defined as non consensual sexual intercourse by the person in position of authority committed on the person under the authority. Person in authority is known as a custodian. So, when custodian commits rape on the person under his control and supervision it amounts to custodial rape.

The concept of custody was evolve to protect the society as well as to improve the person under the authority and for that purpose custodian have been empowered by effective power however these power have been misused by the custodian and they misuse it in a manner resulting into rape or other custodial violence including harassment, threat, death, suicide etc. The concept of custody has been widened up. It includes public officials, staff of jail and remand house, staff in hospitals or any other person having legal control and supervision over the person.

Legal provision under the Indian Penal Code:-

1. Section 375 of IBC defines rape as when a person penetrate his penis or insert any object or a part of body into the vaginal urethra NS of a woman or make her to do so or any other person or manipulate class manipulates any part of the body of women it said to have committed 7 circumstances mentioned in the section.

2. Section 376 C provides for the punishment in case of sexual intercourse by a person in authority. It provides for imprisonment of five years which may extend to 10 years and fine .

History of custodial rape:-

Custodial rape is not a new crime in Indian society. We see the traces even in the Colonial period. During the colonial period courts were found tilted towards the authority as it had prejudicial attitude towards the victim by having the stereotype that victims had made false allegations on the public officials. The number of cases accelerated during the national emergency where public authority was empowered with great power and eventually which have been misused .


Tuka Ram vs state of Maharashtra, 1978.


A girl named Mathura (14-16 years) belonging to aadivasi lived with her brother. She maintained an intimate relationship with her neighbor and eloped with him. Her brother reported the case in the police station making allegations on the neighbor of kidnapping his sister later on police found Mathura and her neighbor. However, a policeman stopped Mathura and let another person walk out of the station. Constable Ganpat and other police officer named Tukaram raped her.


Session court acquitted the accused stating that no physical resistance was found on the body of the victim . It suggests that there was consent. However Bombay court over turned decision and held the accused liable for the rape. Further, the Supreme Court favored the judgment of the Session Court and acquitted the accused stating that no marks of injury were found on the victim's body concluding that no alarm was raised for help.

Rameeza Bee case, 1978


Rameeza was illegally detained and raped by police officers and also brutally assaulted. The day after she narrated the story to her husband, her husband raised voice against it unfortunately he was beaten mercilessly by the police officer and he lost his life.


A Committee was framed under the guidance of Muktadhara for the purpose of investigating it, found policemen liable for the rape. However, Karnataka Session Court acquitted the accused stating that rameeza be was not victim and there was lack of evidence supporting the statement of victim and sadly the court also stated that her husband died due to natural death.

Societal implication and cause:

Custodial rape not only affect affecting but it affects the society at large. Whenever any concept of crime is discussed, it is important to discuss the reason behind growing such crime and also knowing what would be the societal implication of such crime.

Causes: There are there are a number causes behind the commission of custodial rape which includes absence of stringent laws due to which the custodian being powerful person easily over turn or bifurcate the evidences and testimony. Secondly, lack of solid prision reform, gender composition issues, work pressure and awareness and fear in mind, lack of sex education are the root cause of increasing cases.


It is being rightly said that every crime traces its footprint on the face of society so does in case of custodial rape. Societal implication of custodial rape involves social withdrawal of victim, feeling of shame, depression, havoc in mind of victim and in society at large, low self esteem, suicidal tendency , emotional unstabilities and post traumatic stress disorder are some of societal implication of such a brutal crime.


“India is not rape tolerant but it lacks the courage and awareness to bring it out”.

Suggestion which could help in reducing the cases of custodial rape and providing assistant to the victim may be as following: Stabling separate prisons for male and female would be helpful in reducing prison crime. Another most effective suggestion is to establish an internal complaint committee in every public authority. Employing female staff and using Technology for example CCTV cameras in the police station so it becomes easy to trace evidence to decide cases in an effective and speedy manner. Last but not least, spreading more and more awareness in the minds of society so they can take steps against such heinous crime.


It can be aptly concluded that custodial rape is violation of human right, fundamental right and legal right. The concept of custody was evolved for public purposes. However, the custodian has forgotten that power comes with great responsibility; they are empowered with power for good causes not for exploiting others. Government has through various amendment and enactment provided for punishment of custodial rape this has given a hope in the eyes of victim as well as the society that they would get justice and gradually cases of custodial rape will decrease to the bottom.

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