Published On: September 21, 2021 at 10:08 IST
On one hand, the festival of Navratri is going to commence soon in the first week of October. The festival is generally celebrated in the name of Godess Durga and her nine Swaroops. The Hindu deity is worshipped with so much respect and glory and spirituality is spread all over. Nav Durga represents whole transition of a women’s life. It is said to be the tradition and sacraments of Indian society to see every girl as Goddess only. Even small girls are also worshipped in Navratri, showing gratitude to Maa Durga.
But on the other hand, irony is that Indian society inflicts a lot of evils on these girls. From trafficking to Sexual abuse, the girls have to suffer a lot. The history is evident that in a patriarchal society, with the male dominance, women have to suffer a lot for their rights and place in the society.
Recently, in Pune (Maharashtra), a 14-year-old girl was allegedly abducted from Pune Railway-Station area and raped at multiple places in the city. Eight persons including six auto-rickshaw drivers and two employees of the Railways, were arrested in connection with crime. This shows the actual situation of girls especially minors in the country.
Who is a minor?
A minor is one who has not attained the age of 18 as per Indian Majority Act, 1872. But in case of a guardian is appointed to take care of the minor, his age is presumed to be of 21 years. As a general rule, Minor is a person under a certain age, usually the age of majority, which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood. He is said to be not to have a developed mind-state. In the Indian Contract Act, 1872, a minor is incapable of doing a contract and if does so the transaction is held to be void.
Minors are exempted from various liabilities as per the doctrine of Doli Copax and Doli Incopax. Also, there prevail a lot of rules and laws for the offences against minors for the sake of their protection. Indian Law specifies the age of minor to be different for different matters. Various offences done to the minors or children and their related punishments are also explained under different laws and acts provided under Indian Laws. As per Section 363A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 minor in case of kidnapping and maiming a minor for purposes of begging in case of male, under 16 years of age, and a female under 18 years of age.
Hence, in a society where a girl is murdered within her mother’s womb has to suffer through various things and indecencies in every step of life. Generally minor girls are involved in different kinds of evils and offences for being innocent and unaware of all crimes.
Protection of Minor Girls under Indian Penal Code, 1860
Indian Penal Code, 1860 is considered to be the main law of India where specific punishments for specific offences are given. Though it was introduced under the British Rule, it is still applicable with various amendments to be introduced. There are 511 sections covering various definitions, clauses, offences, punishments as well as their exceptions also. There are mainly three sections as Indian Penal Code, 1860 that deals with Offences against minor girls directly. These are as follows:
- Section 366A: Procuration of Minor girl
This Section states that, “Whoever, by means whatsoever induces any minor girl under the age of eighteen years to go from any place to do any act with intent that such girl may be, or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years, shall also be liable to fine.“
According to the section, if any person is seducing or forcing a minor girl to do intercourse with some another person, he is committing an offence under Indian Penal Code. It is to be noted that it also talks about the person has make her entrust her to go anywhere or to any act. Here Mens Rea is an important indicator that must be present. It comes under kidnapping and abduction of any women intending to compel her to do some act. To invoke this section the following must be proved:
- The accused must have induced a girl;
- The said girl must be below 1 years of age;
- The said girl was induced to go from a place, or to do any act, with intent or knowledge that such girl would be forced, or seduced to illicit intercourse with a person.
Punishment: The section defines the maximum punishment for the offence which is 10 years imprisonment with fine. The offence is cognizable, non-bailable, non-compoundable and triable by the Court of Sessions.
- Section 372: Buying minor for purposes of Prostitution etc.
As per Section 372 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 “Whosoever sells, lets to hire or otherwise disposes of any (person under the age of eighteen years with intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful or immoral purpose, or knowing it to be likely that such person will at any age be) employed or used for any such purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description or a term which may extend ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
According to this section, if a person sells or let to hire a minor for the purpose of prostitution or any other illegal or immoral purpose, such person is said to be capable to be punished. It also includes the persons that are employed to do such tasks. The section is in consonance with the Article 23 of the Constitution which prohibits traffic in human beings and sanctions punishments for the practice of such acts.
The provision envisages protection of chastity of girls. This section is applicable on both married and unmarried female minors irrespective of their caste or community including girls belonging to the dancing girls.
Punishment: The offence is cognizable, bailable and triable at the Court of Sessions. Punishment may extend to imprisonment for ten years and fine.
- Buying minor for purposes of prostitution, etc:
The Section writes that “Whosoever buys, hires or otherwise obtains possession of any (person under the age of eighteen years with intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, or knowing to be likely that such person will at any age be) employed or used for any such purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Section 373, Indian Penal Code, 1860 is a counterpart of Section 372, Indian Penal Code, 1860. The two sections deal with trafficking in minor girls under the age of 18 years. The buying or hiring of minor girls must be from a third person. This section punishes buyers and hires of minor girls for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for unlawful and immoral purposes.
When a brothel keeper allowed a girl to visit the brothel for two or three hours in the night and allowed her to prostitute herself to customers for money, this constituted obtaining of possession of such a girl within the meaning of the Act. Similarly, where the accused, a brothel manager, obtained possession of a girl below 18 years of age, the presumption was that she would be used for prostitution.
Punishment: This offence is also punishable upto ten years and fine.
Hence, these are the main provision of Indian Penal Code, 1860 that directly deals with the offences against minor girls. There are some other sections that relates with minors and their offences may be indirectly.
- Section 360: Kidnapping for exporting
Section 360 tells that if a person is sent beyond or outside of India without his/her permission by any another person, he/she commits the crime of abducting the person from India. The minor girls generally are taken for human trafficking in this case.
- Section 363A: Kidnapping for Begging
Section 363A was brought in the year 1959 for the expansion of systemised begging, where unethical people abducted children and taught them lesson on the aim that how to beg. The rule was introduced that in any child under lawful guardianship uses the child for begging, unless it is proven, the children will be assumed to be kidnapped. The culprit here will be punished of imprisonment for the injury at all times.
- Section 367: Kidnapping for Slavery
The Section punishes those people who capture children to make him/her perform slavery/ unnatural lust with anyone or imprisonment till 10 years. Especially minor girls are possessed for the satisfaction of lust of the people.
- Section 375(6): Rape (under eighteen years of age)
The section deals with intercourse with a girl who is below the age of 18 years results in rape. The consent is irrelevant in this case as it is assumed that she is incapable of thinking and giving consent. Different punishments have been decided foe rape of women in different ages.
- Rape of women under 16 years of age: Rigorous imprisonment of not less than 20 years/ life and fine.
- Rape of women under 12 years of age: Rigorous imprisonment of not less than 20 years/ life and fine, or death.
There are many offences like this prescribed under Indian penal Code that are against the minors especially the minor girl or girl child. All this starts from the birth and lasts till death.
- Dilip Singh Vs State of Bihar
Rape is called when intercourse done without consent
In this case, The Supreme held that though will and consent often interlace and the act done against the will of a person can be said to be act done without consent. This gives a spirit of force leading to amounting rape.
- Venku Vs Mahalinga
Sale of Minor Girls
The case held the accused punishable for the act of sale of minor girls that is below the age of 18 years for the purpose of prostitution, or illicit intercourse, or for other unlawful and immoral purposes.
- Bhagwati Prasad Vs Emperor
Section 366A is framed to protect chastity of a woman
The court explained that this section is attracted when a person induces a minor under 18 years of age to go to any place, or to do any act, with the intention or knowledge that such minor may be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person. The section is made to protect the chastity of a woman.
It has been understood that the above mentioned offences deals with the offences against minor girls may be directly or indirectly. It is a stigma on the society if we are not able to protect our minor girls from one wrong or another. There are different laws dealing with such crimes including IPC, Juvenile Justice Act, POCSO etc but the epicentre of main laws is Indian Penal Code, 1860 in India.
Indian Penal Code, 1860 is considered to be the major and foremost that deals with crimes and offences with their punishments and exceptions. Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides various provisions regarding the concept. The rules are amended and made hard and fast with the circumstances and changing times. It includes almost all range of offences against the minor girls from abduction, murdering in womb to rape cases with their punishments.
But it should be noted that only rules and laws are not enough to eradicate the evils of the society and we all people have to come forward for the protection of innocent girls from all the pressures and evils of the patriarchal society. Only by that way, the worship of Goddesses would be actually meaningful.
 “Maharashtra: Minor girl abducted and raped in Pune; 8 held, Pune News-Times of India”, (Last visited on September 9th, 2021)
 Dilip Singh Vs State of Bihar, (2005) 1 SCC 88
 Venku Vs Mahalinga, 1888 ILR 1 Mad 393
 Bhagwati Prasad Vs Emperor, AIR 1929 All 709 (710)