This was a case of rape against a transgender woman. Shivam Dewangan extorted a sum of Rs. 1,50,000 from a transgender woman and engaged in sexual acts under the false pretext of marriage. He filed this petition to be released on regular bail.
ISSUES & DECISION:
The issue before the court was whether the offence of rape under Section 375 of the IPC was applicable in this case. The definition of “rape” under Section 375 is gender-specific. In other words, the offence of rape can only be committed by a man against a woman.
First, the court observed that in this case, the victim was transgender. It relied on the forensic reports to note that the victim’s secondary sexual characteristics, including her vagina, were at a developing stage. It referred to NALSA Vs Union of India to recognise that sex-reassignment surgery (SRS) was a painful and long procedure.
Second, the court considered the findings in the forensic reports. According to these, there were no traces of semen or signs of injury around the victim’s vagina. Finally, the court noted that the victim had only made a complaint after one year.
While the court recognised the transgender status of the victim as well as the gravity of an offence of rape, it relied on forensic reports and the delay in filing the FIR to grant bail to the accused in the case.
Despite the Supreme Court’s recognition of transgender persons and the complications of SRS, this case sheds light on the gaps in addressing rape against transgender women, under Section 375 of the IPC.