In response to the outrage over recent cases of rapes in Kathua and Unnao the Union Cabinet on Saturday approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to provide death penalty for rapists of girls below 12 years, according to a senior government official.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance provides for stringent punishment of a jail term of minimum 20 years or life imprisonment or death for rape of a girl under 12 years.
Amendments to be made
An official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development said amendments would be made to the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Evidence Act.
As per the ordinance, for the crime of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, which can be extended to imprisonment for the rest of life. Minimum punishment for rape of women has also been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment. It provides for speedy investigation and trial, which must be completed in two months. There will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.
To improve the capacity of the judicial system, the government plans to set up new fast track courts, special forensic labs exclusively for rape cases, forensic kits for rape cases at all police stations and hospitals and dedicated manpower for investigation of such cases. This will be done within three months on a “mission mode”.
The government also reiterated its plans to bring a national registry of sexual offenders.
The Justice Verma Committee, which was constituted in the aftermath of December 2012 gangrape in Delhi to recommend legal reforms to curb sexual assault crimes, in its report said introduction of death penalty for rape may not have a deterrent effect and recommended enhanced sentence of jail for the remainder of life.