RANBIR PENAL CODE, A REDUNDANT STATUTE NOW

Why is an amendment made? Why do we repeal a law or a statute? What is the need? Whenever any law or statute becomes redundant or in some cases violates the supreme law, a need to abrogate them comes into the picture. This blog discusses one such redundant statute.

Indian penal code was formulated in 1860 by Lord Macaulay, a British. Ranbir Penal Code which was formulated on the lines of that same Indian penal code by the same man was named after Ranbir Singh the ruler of the Dogra dynasty who promoted the Dogri language widely. Ranbir Singh was the son of Gulab Singh, the one who took Jammu and Kashmir from East India Company in 75 lakhs when Anglo- the Sikh war was happening in 1846. When RPC was introduced, at that time Dogra dynasty was ruling the state, of which Ranbir Singh was the ruler, hence the penal code was named after him. Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state and when the decision was being made by the respective rulers that whether they want to stay with India or go with Pakistan, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari delayed this decision.

So when did he finally decide to be part of India?

The last ruler of the Dogra dynasty in the Muslim majority region, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession when he found that there is a threat to his land from Pakistan and needed military aid, he relied on India for the support. His delay in making the decision affected the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

How did Jammu and Kashmir get special status in the Indian constitution?
  • In 1952 the prime minister of India- Jawaharlal Nehru and prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir- Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah (with whom Maharaja Hari Singh made interim government in 1948) signed Delhi In 1954, the accession of state was ratified by the J&K constituent assembly and the President subsequently issued the constitution order under Article 370 of the Constitution extending the Union Constitution to the state with some exceptions and modifications.
  • Where was it written that Jammu and Kashmir is part of India?
  • says Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.
Why did Ranbir Penal Code come into existence and when did it get dissolved?

Now, the Indian penal code that is applied to entire India didn’t apply to Jammu and Kashmir because of the special status it had. [1]Thus, Ranbir penal code was formed which had a few sections which differed from the Indian penal code. Till 2019, the statute for substantive criminal law in the state of Jammu and Kashmir was Ranbir Peal Code. But in 2019 came the twist when the Indian government finally removed article 370 [2]which was put in the constitution temporarily but got stretched for decades and deprived the people of Jammu and Kashmir of certain rights that all other Indians had, those who resided in other states of the country. With article 370 being removed, one more thing that came into play was the State Reorganization Act wherein the state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories:

With this, the implication of the Ranbir Penal Code came to an end.

But what differentiated Ranbir Penal Code from Indian Penal Code?

  1. RPC did not mention anything about cybercrimes whereas section 4 of IPC does mention them.
  2. section 195 A of IPC talks about perjury whereas there is no mention of it in RPC.
  3. Dowry deaths have created havoc in our society since time immemorial, punishment for that is written in section 304B of IPC but not in RPC.
  4. In RPC in section 190 A it is stated that government can punish anyone who circulates, publishes anything which is forfeited by the government and it is in the hands of the CM of state whether it was seditious or not. This section completely undermines the freedom of the press, thought and expression.
  5. Punishment for cheating with government and public authorities in the performance of a contract, which is important for tackling corruption is present in section 420A of RPC whereas IPC lacks this section.
  6. Laws for RAPE: RPC was more feministic than IPC as the years of imprisonment in RPC for this offence is more.

Definition of rape

Same in both statutes

Punishment

7 years – section 376 of IPC

8 years –section 376 of RPC

Punishment for rape resulting in a permanent vegetative state

20 years- 376 A of IPC

25 years-section 376 A of RPC

Additionally, under RPC driving license of a rapist is also cancelled. He can’t drive a vehicle in the state after committing this offence.

  1. Decriminalization of homosexual intercourse in India: in 2018, a very long-awaited judgment took place which decriminalized same-sex marriage and homosexual intercourse in India when section 377 of IPC was held unconstitutional. But in Kashmir the LGBTQ+ community faced harshness. The moment section 370 got abrogated, the queer community lost their only safe space –the internet too.

CONCLUSION

Thus, it is visible that neither the IPC is entirely complete nor the RPC was. Legislative bodies need to examine these differences with an observant eye. Ironically, it is IPC that is an older statute and should be amended, but because of the changes that took place in 2019, RPC was replaced with IPC. Many laws in IPC have become redundant and need to be looked into. But removing a stone is easier than breaking an entire mountain, right? The Brighter Side of the State Reorganization Act is that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will no longer feel like outsiders in their nation. And the removal of RPC became necessary because the same rules need to be applied to the entire family, right? Now that the RPC has lived its life, it is the IPC that needs the removal or incorporation of some sections to provide strong laws for our country.

Author(s) Name: Kusum Kapuria (Panjab University, Chandigarh)

References:

[1]  Constitution of India,1950, Article 370 (repealed)

[2] Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, C.O. 272

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