Contrary to the popular perception, the four who were held guilty by a fast track court here in the December 16 gang-rape case will not be punished under the new amended stringent rape law as the amendments were carried out after the commission of the crime.

According to former Delhi Standing Counsel K.C. Mittal, a criminal law applies to cases committed after its enactment, not retrospectively. As the rape law was amended and came into effect after the gang-rape of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student, the guilty persons would not be sentenced under the new law, Mr. Mittal said.

However, the quantum of punishment for the four convicts can go either way — life imprisonment or death sentence — as they have also been pronounced guilty for the murder charge. But it depends upon whether the court categorises the case as a rarest of rare case or not. In any case, the four convicts will get life imprisonment

As per the amended law, a rape convict can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 20 years, which may extend to remainder of the convict’s natural life. It also provides for death sentence to repeat offenders. And for the first time, stalking and voyeurism have been defined as non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time, while acid attack convicts can get a 10-year jail sentence.

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