Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 


“The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night, that day we can say that India has achieved Independence”
- Mahatma Gandhi

The aforementioned title of this essay leads us to a traumatic commemoration of that brutal, heart-breaking Delhi rape case that numbed the minds and hearts of the entire country. ‘India’s Daughter’, the documentary that was made by London-based filmmaker Leslee Udwin in the year 2015, has become the latest lynchpin in a decades-old debate about Western representations of India and the Indian woman’s subjection to the dueling discourses of imperialism and patriarchy. The documentary aimed to evoke the feeling of pity and realization for the brutal assault, not on the girl itself, but on her entire family which has affected the minds and souls of girls around the globe. It unfolds the facts and nitty-gritty of the said 2012 case in front of the general public who was oblivion of the actual issue. This essay per se is the discussion of that very dreadful incident, about the facts, about its judgment, and the aftermath.


In this unfortunate incident that happened on 16th December 2012, a 23-year-old medical student was viciously raped by a group of six young perpetrators including a juvenile. The girl named Jyoti Singh was with her friend Awindra Pandey and they went for watching “Life of Pi” movie and while returning, they boarded a bus. The bus had 6 men already there including the driver started showing signs of something wrong. As the boy felt some wrong in the scenario, he objected which led to a brawl as the drunken man started assaulting the girl. While the fight was going on, Pandey was hit hard with a rod leading to unconsciousness. The girl was taken to the back of the bus and everyone, turn by turn sexually assaulted the girl. The juvenile there, who was one of the most ruthless inserted into the private parts of the body, an iron rod which led to the pulling out of her intestines out of her body, something that is intimidating even to listen. After the assault, they both were kicked and thrown out of the bus and were left to die on the road. As a passer-by informed the police, she was taken to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries on 29th December 2012, and in her last breath, she pleaded justice against those six offenders. The case is called “Nirbhaya” because the Indian Penal Code of the country restricts the media from revealing the identity of the victims. Thus it was named so from among the many names given by multiple publications and means “No Fear/Fearless”.  


After the arrest, the trial began on charges of murder, sexual assault, and some other allied offenses. Later in 2013, Ram Singh, one of the perpetrators hanged himself to death in the jail cell of Tihar. A committee was set up to bring about relevant amendments to the laws and acts for stricter criminal trials for rapists. The Delhi fast track court asked for the adults to be awarded the death sentence and the minor was sent to a correction home for three years. To confirm the sentence, it was sent to Delhi HC which start a frequent hearing of the case and later on upheld the decision. Supreme Court also upheld the decision and when the matter was brought for review again in the highest court of record, the petitions were rejected. As a last resort, the matter was brought as a mercy petition in front of the president but that too got rejected. It was the “rarest of the rare” case and this phrase was derived in the case of Bacchan vs the State of Punjab and has since then been considered a doctrine. Even the curative petitions got dismissed but finally brought them on their death pedestal and after 8- 9 years of an incessant tussle between the rapists and the justice system, the decision was in favor of the victim, and all four convicts were hanged till death on 20th March 2020 and JUSTICE WAS SERVED EVENTUALLY!!!


The documentary by Leslee Udwin was to release on International Women’s Day (8th March) on BBC but was later on banned to be brought up for public screening. A chunk of people was of the view that the documentary is a kind of conspiracy raised against the country’s government on the global platform. It was also noticed that the one-hour-long documentary digresses the limits set up by law in IPC regarding the publication of the name of the victim and for the matter, the name of the victim needs to be concealed, whereas the film uses actual names of the people concerned which is ultra vires to the lex loci. Kavita Krishna, a feminine activist said, “the film supports a very patriarchal aspect”. The documentary also interviewed the prisoner whose statements brought in a huge public outrage and contempt. The film affected the public order and thus, Rajnath Singh, Home Minister during that time outlawed the documentary based on “objectionable content”. Udwin filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking removal of the ban on the film in the Delhi High Court as the act was digressing her Right to free speech under Article 19 but her PIL was rejected.


The barbaric and ill-fated case of Nirbhaya brought in several amendments in various legislations across the country, be it the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, POCSO Act, etc. After the case of 2012, a committee under the aegis of Justice Verma was set up for seeking suggestions on how rape laws can be made more stringent and operative. This led to altercations in the Criminal Law in the year 2013. The definition of rape was extended to include the offenses of voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks, and even the threat of rape is now an offense. The punishment was raised to 20 years in the cases where the sufferer went to a vegetative state or has died. The refusal to register a complaint of rape made to an officer is an offense punishable under law. It also proposes the death sentence for perpetrators with a prior conviction for a similar crime. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act was also amended in 2015 because the juvenile that was there in the 2012 rape case couldn’t be charged rigorously because of the flaws in the legislation. Thus, if a juvenile between the age of 16 to 18 has committed some heinous crime like murder or rape, etc, then he will be tried as an adult offender in the court of law. Besides these changes, many amendments were brought to the archaic Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 375 which deals with rape was widened to include oral, vaginal, and any other kind of abuse to the women’s dignity. Section 376 made the imprisonment for the rape to 20 years if that action leads to a vegetative state or death of the victim. The provisions that dealt with the reduction of the extent of punishment under sections 376(1) and 376(2) were revoked. Punishment was introduced under Section 166(A) if the public servant refuses or fails to register the complaint or record the information. A clause (B) was also added the section 166 which made the treatment of rape victims by hospitals obligatory.  


The rape laws across the nation have seen the day’s light with the case of Nirbhaya that happened in 2012. A director at the Delhi-based organization working to end sexual disparity, Sunita Menon said, “After the Nirbhaya case, while on the one hand, we have seen many changes in the law, which has become more stringent; on the other, we have seen a dramatic change in social attitudes as well. Now, we see the public raising its voice in anger against any crime against a woman — be it on social media or be it on the streets. The voice of the people has finally become loud enough to be heard.” But despite all these changes, where we lag is in the effectual implementation. The laws are still devoid of a gender-neutral perspective and neither man is considered to be a victim of the abuse nor the woman is deemed as a perpetrator. This Gender-Disparity needs to be addressed. One major concern is that while all the legislation is dynamic and keeps on being amended from time to time, the issue with the rape laws is that they wait for any crime or a barbaric act of sexual abuse to happen to bring in altercations to the legislations. While the documentary “India’s Daughter” is banned in the country on some relevant grounds, I would still recommend the general public (who has not seen the film already) to devote their one hour to seeing this documentary to just get to know why there was a commotion in the whole country because of that issue. “Only the wearer knows, where the shoe pinches”, but don’t wait for something of this sort to happen to you personally to raise your voice.


  1. Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan, “The Allegory of “India’s Daughter” available at (Visited on 29th March 2022).
  2. Section 228A(2), The Indian Penal Code, 1860.

  3. Bacchan vs the State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 684

  4. Ibid.

  5. Available at of (Visited on 29th March 2022).

  6. Diti Bajpai, “Post Nirbhaya rape case, the laws have changed, but has the mindset? No, it hasn’t” available at (Visited on 29th March 2022)

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