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Dhagamwar, Vasudha Vasanti (1972) Safeguards of Liberty in the Indian Penal Code: Theory and Practice. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is concerned with certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code, viz., the sections on Abduction, Kidnapping, Rape and Slavery. In this thesis we have examined these sections of the Penal Code (Chapter III) and the case law under them, (Chapter IV - V) in order to support the proposition that there is a wide gap between the intention with which law makers frame their laws, and their effect when these laws are actually applied; and that this is so because of various factors, in particular the difference in social attitudes towards certain crimes, the offenders and their victims. The Penal Code was an ideal choice to illustrate this proposition. It was drafted more than one hundred years ago by the alien rulers of a large country, which sheltered a variety of cultures and ethical codes of conduct, of which they were largely ignorant- (Chapters I - II). Secondly, both at home and elsewhere the British were then inclined to assume that the values acceptable to their middle-class were also accepted by the less privileged sections of any society. We have tried to demonstrate the falsity of this premise, (Chapters IV - VII), and to show that, when the British attempted to impose their middle-class morality upon India, wherever Indian societies rejected it, the laws based upon this morality were quietly but unmistakably rendered ineffective. This was the case with laws dealing with sexual offences and laws dealing with slavery. We have tried to show that it is necessary to do more research into social conditions before passing laws than appears to be done today in India. It is equally necessary to see that people do not reduce these laws to a dead letter, once the government have seen fit to enact them; for passing a law, by itself, achieves nothing.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:26

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