Death penalty for child rape: Bar Council of India slams Centre, says government acted in haste

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New Delhi | Published: April 24, 2018 5:52:14 PM

Bar Council of India has slammed the Centre over what it termed as a 'hurried decision'. Speaking to ANI, Bar Council of India chairman said that the government should have brought the ordinance after proper discussion.

Bar Council of India slams Centre, says government acted in haste. (Image: ANI)

A day after the Delhi High Court pulled up the Centre over its recently promulgated ordinance which strengthened the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act and provided for death penalty to persons found guilty of raping children aged 12 years and below, the Bar Council of India on Tuesday slammed the Centre over what it termed as a ‘hurried decision’. Speaking to news agency ANI, Bar council of India chairman Manan Mishra said that the decision was taken in a hurry and that the government should have brought the ordinance after proper discussion.

“The amendment should have been brought by proper discussion. I think it is a step taken in hurry. Pros and cons should have been considered. Only then such amendments should be made,” Mishra told ANI.

Amid an uproar over cases relating to sexual offences against children across the country, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Saturday cleared the ordinance last week on POCSO Act. The ordinance has paved the way to court to award the death penalty to those convicted of raping a child up to 12 years of age. The ordinance received the assent of President Ram Nath Kovind on April 22, the next day.

As per reports, the Centre has cleared the criminal law amendment ordinance and POCSO Act is a part of this amendment. Official sources said that the criminal law amendment ordinance seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision to sentence convicts of such crimes punishment of death.

Union Cabinet has also decided to put in place measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment is increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment; minimum 20 years’ imprisonment or life imprisonment for the rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided in the Ordinance.

POCSO or The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was established to protect the children against offences like sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography. It was formed to provide a child-friendly system for trial underneath which the perpetrators could be punished. The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It also makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimization of the child at the hands of the judicial system. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 received the President’s assent on June 19, 2012. It was notified in the Gazette of India on June 20, in the same year.

The demand for the death penalty to child rapists took centre stage after the two separate cases of gangrape and murder emerged from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao.

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