National

Govt. not for noose for child abusers, rapists and paedophiles

A view of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.

A view of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

“The death penalty is not an answer for everything,” it says in Supreme Court.

The Union government on Thursday expressed its objection to prescribe the noose for child abusers, rapists and paedophiles, saying “the death penalty is not an answer for everything.”

Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha said the POCSO Act classified child abuse into sexual harassment, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.

The law metes out varying levels of punishment for each crime against children. For child harassment, it is imprisonment of up to three years, five years’ imprisonment for sexual assault and 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated sexual assault.

The government was responding to a submission by public interest litigation petitioner in person, advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, to change the punishment for a child rapist to the death penalty.

The case concerns the “brutal” sexual assault of an eight-month-old child in the National Capital who, under the orders of the Supreme Court on January 31, was shifted to AIIMS for intensive care.

Pendency of POCSO cases

The court responded by initiating a review of the pendency of cases currently under the POCSO Act. It asked the petitioner to provide details of pendency of POCSO cases by March 12.

It decided to look into the larger issue of disposal of POCSO cases within a prescribed deadline and strict punishment.

The POCSO Act calls for the setting up of special courts to fast-track trial in cases of child assault.

The hearing came 24 hours after a deeply concerned Supreme Court, in an urgent hearing, directed a team of two specialists to rush to the eight-month-old admitted to a private hospital with a special ambulance to transport her to AIIMS to provide her special medical care.

The government informed the Bench on Thursday that her parents have been given an interim compensation of ₹75,000. On Wednesday, both the government and the Supreme Court expressed their concern for the child.

Mr. Srivastava moved the court saying “when such a brutal sexual offence has taken place, the State has to show concern and appropriate treatment has to be given to the child apart from grant of compensation.”

Past judgment

The court referred to its past judgment in the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) vs. Union of India and Another that crimes against girl children are “rampant for unfathomable reasons and it is the obligation of the law and law-makers to cultivate respect for the children and especially the girl children who are treated with such barbarity and savageness.”

The court expressed its anguish at such crimes, which were nothing but “horrendous and repulsive.”

It said a ''child is a glorious gift to mankind, cannot conceive of any kind of carnal desire in man”, and reiterated its hope that Parliament would respond to the agony of society and work towards prescribing a “higher punishment.”

“Once she becomes a victim of such a crime, there is disastrous effect on her mind. The mental agony lasts long. Sorrow and fear haunt forever. There is need to take steps for stopping this kind of child abuse.” the Bench referred to the earlier judgment.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 10:55:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-objects-in-supreme-court-to-death-penalty-for-child-rape/article22619190.ece

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