The National Law University, Delhi (NLU) has approached the Supreme Court challenging Sections 376 DA, 370 (6) and Section 370(7) of the IPC in as much as they impose a mandatory sentence of imprisonment for life, for the remainder of one's natural life.

The NLU through its Project 39A has filed an application for impleadment in a writ petition filed by Advocate Mahendra Vishwanath Kawchale challenging Section 376DA of the IPC.

A Bench of Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justice Bela M Trivedi while hearing the public interest litigation filed by Kawchale directed the Center to file its response to the petition within three weeks.

Kawchale appeared in person while Advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki appeared for the NLU Delhi. The Bench remarked while reading Section 376DA that it is a peculiar case as it takes away discretion from the presiding officer while awarding punishment.

Advocate Nazki informed the Court that a similar matter challenging the validity of Section 376DB of IPC, 1860 (W.P.(Crl.) No. 184/2022) is pending and listed before the Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli.

In its petition, the NLU has contended that the provisions challenged by it are bad for the following reasons:-

  • The punishment under Section 376DA dismisses individual capacity for reform and rehabilitation.
  • Mandatory punishment of imprisonment for the remainder of one's natural life is a cruel punishment.
  • Section 376DA is degrading because it is incompatible with individualized justice.
  • Mandatory sentence violates due process guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • Mandatory sentence impermissibly curbs judicial discretion of a sentencing judge and precludes individualized sentencing.
  • Mandatory sentence renders the sentencing hearing mandated under Section 235(2) of CrPC meaningless.
  • Mandatory sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of natural life violates the right of an accused to a fair sentencing hearing which forms part of right to fair trial.
  • Mandatory sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of natural life is incompatible with the penological goal of reformation.
  • Mandatory sentence under Section 376DA is arbitrary and hence violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The Bench has directed that the matter be listed along with other connected matters.