SECTION 376 IPC - Indian Penal Code - Punishment for rape

Last Updated: 01 May, 2024
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

Table of Contents
  1. IPC 376 in Simple Words
  2. Punishment for sexual assault:
  3. IPC Section 376 related FAQs

According to IPC Section 376, whoever commits an offence that is punishable as per Section 376 sub-section (1) or Section 376 sub-section (2), and in the course of such commission inflicts an injury that causes the death of the woman or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not be less than twenty years, that may extend to imprisonment for life, meaning imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.

IPC 376 in Simple Words

In the Indian Penal Code, if someone commits a crime under section 376 and the crime leads to the death of the woman or leaves the woman in a permanent vegetative state, the person who committed the crime can be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum of twenty years, be given life imprisonment, or even the death penalty.

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Punishment for sexual assault:

Whoever, other than for such cases that sub-section (2) has provision for, commits sexual assault shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to pay fine.

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Offence : Rape

Punishment : Rigorous Imprisonment for 10 years to Imprisonment for Life + Fine

Cognizance : Cognizable

Bail : Non-bailable

Triable : Court of Session

Offence : Rape by a police officer or a public servant or member of armed forces or a person being on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody or women’s or children’s institution or by a person on the management or on the staff of a hospital, and rape committed by a person in a position of trust or authority towards the person raped or by a near relative of the person raped.

Punishment : Rigorous Imprisonment for 10 years to Imprisonment for Natural-Life + Fine

Cognizance : Cognizable

Bail : Non-bailable

Triable : Court of Session

Offence : Persons committing offence of rape on a woman under sixteen years of age.

Punishment : Rigorous Imprisonment for 20 years to Imprisonment for Natural-Life + Fine

Cognizance : Cognizable

Bail : Non-bailable

Triable : Court of Session


  • Classification of Section
  • Rape

IPC Section 376 is for punishment for rape. It has been modified several times and currently is quite a strong version of its original self. Various circumstances situations and offences that were not part of the original Section are now included post the Nirbhaya incident.

Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code talks about the punishment for committing the offence of rape. The Indian law prior to the Nirbhaya incident took into account only acts of penile-vaginal intercourse within the definition of rape and non-consensual acts of penetration of vagina, mouth, urethra or anus through an inanimate object did not fall within the definition of rape under the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier, an amendment was made to the definition of rape enumerated under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code in the year 1983, which overhauled the previous definition of rape and also made changes to the punishment but was deemed inadequate. The amendment defined rape as coercive non-consensual sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Interestingly, this amendment was also brought due to the widespread criticism of the judgment in the case of Tukaram v State of Maharashtra. In this case the trial court had pronounced the accused as not guilty based on the concept that the victim had given an implied consent. An observation was also made in the case that the victim was of immoral character which was used as the reasoning for her implied consent. This was overturned by the Bombay High Court which rightly pointed out that there is a huge difference between consent and passive submission and that mere surrender to another person’s lust should not be taken as consent. However, this was upturned by the Supreme Court and all the accused in the case were acquitted leading to wide criticism of its judgment by the society.

According to the 1983 amendment, there were six circumstances that were considered the constituents of rape. The primary condition for rape was that there must be a sexual intercourse between the accused and the victim. It was widely believed that rape can only be committed if the sexual intercourse has taken place without the consent of the victim, but the Indian judiciary realised that it is not the case in all the scenarios, rape can be committed even after consent has been obtained if the age of the woman is below the age of sixteen years. On a closer look of the definition of rape after the 1983 amendment, the conditions for the commission of rape can be broadly divided into three parts. The first two clauses dealt with sexual intercourse with a woman ‘against her will’ and ‘without her consent’. This means that the woman is consciously capable of giving or not giving consent to the act. The next two clauses dealt with the woman giving her consent due to coercion that is by putting her or any of her family member under the threat of grievous hurt and it also dealt with the scenario when the consent is obtained through misconception. The last two clauses dealt with the scenario of consensual sex with an underage woman (below sixteen years).

However, after the outrage caused by the Nirbhaya case the Criminal Amendment Act 2013 was passed that brought consequential changes in the definition and punishment for rape which was proven to be inadequate. The Justice Verma Committee was formed to collect recommendations for the legislature to formulate a legal framework to combat rape and other crimes against women. The Committee received over 80,000 suggestions in a short duration upon which deliberations were made. These suggestions were sent by various activists, lawyers, NGOs and other persons representing the ‘civil society’. The recommendations were introduced through an ordinance as the legislature was adjourned due to which the amendment act could not be introduced. Under the ordinance, the offence of rape was given a broader meaning which was comprehensive enough to include any kind of penetration including any body part of the victim.

Voyeurism (section 354C) was also introduced as an offence through the amendment which was not a crime previously under the Indian Penal Code. Voyeurism means the recording or viewing of images, movies or any such media without the permission of the person portrayed or screened in them. Prior to the 2013 amendment, minimum punishment for rape was not specified under the Indian Penal Code, which is now seven years and can be extended up to life imprisonment along with fine. It also added fourteen situations in which punishment for rape shall not be less than ten years and which may extend to imprisonment for the remainder of the accused’s natural life or death. These situations have been listed below:

  • Rape by police officer

  • Rape by a public servant

  • Rape by an armed force personnel

  • Rape by the management or staff of a jail, remand home

  • Rape by the management or staff of a hospital

  • Rape by relative, guardian or teacher

  • Rape during communal or sectarian violence

  • Rape of pregnant women

  • Rape of a woman under sixteen

  • Rape of a woman incapable of giving consent

  • Committing rape being in a position of control and dominance over a woman

  • Rape of a woman suffering from mental or physical disability

  • While committing rape causes grievous harm or maims or disfigures or endangers the life of a woman

  • Commits rape repeatedly on the same woman

376. Sexual assault: Punishment 1 (a) Except in cases covered by subsection (2), anyone who commits a sexual assault is punished with either imprisonment or fine for a period of not less than seven but up to ten years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Section 376 DA of IPC?

IPC Section 376DA: Punishment of gang rape against women under 16 years old.

What is Section 376 on husband?

Karnataka High Court: Husbands who rape their wives are punishable under Section 376 IPC. The Karnataka High Court has denied a request by a husband to dismiss rape charges against him under Sections 376 and 377 of the Indian Penal Code after his wife made a complaint. 11 May 2022

Is 376 B bailable?

Is IPC Section 376B bailable? Section 376B of the IPC is both cognizable and bailable. A cognizable act can only be established when the victim files a complaint. This type of offense falls under the jurisdictions of the Sessions Court.

What is the difference between Section 375 and 376?

The Court stated if there is a consensual sexual relationship, it cannot be claimed that this would constitute rape as defined by S.375 of the IPC and punishable under S.376 of the IPC. 13 Mar 2023