National

Reject death penalty ordinance: activists

Slam populism over systemic reform

Jurists, social activists and families of child rape survivors have urged parliamentarians to reject the ordinance on death penalty for rape of girls below 12 years and condemned it as a “populist move” which will prove “disastrous” for the safety of children.

Pointing out that the punishment prescribed for rape of children below 12 years under the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is “stringent, sufficient and proportionate”, they said the focus should be on reform of the criminal justice system so that trials can be completed in a time-bound manner and perpetrators do not walk free.

President Ram Nath Kovind promulgated the Ordinance on Sunday, which will have to be ratified by Parliament within six weeks.

‘Diverts attention’

“Death penalty diverts attention from problems ailing the criminal justice system such as poor investigation, lack of crime prevention and abuse of rights of victims,” said former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court A.P. Shah at a press conference on Monday.

He referred to the poor conviction rate of 24% for cases under the POCSO Act and a high pendency of 89.6% and said there was a need to address these flaws.

“I appeal to all MPs to reject this law as it will cause a considerable harm to children. It is more of a political decision rather than a step to fight the menace of sexual violence against children,” Justice Shah said.

Lawyer Vrinda Grover said the provision of fast track courts in the Ordinance is misleading as there are not enough judges. Without investing in more judges it will be impossible to finish trials in two months, as laid down in the Ordinance, she said.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 1:40:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/reject-death-penalty-ordinance-activists/article23650271.ece

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