Death penalty for child rape: Delhi HC raps Centre, says no proper research done before issuing ordinance

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New Delhi | Updated: April 23, 2018 5:12:57 PM

The Delhi High court on Monday pulled up the Centre over the issue, holding that while the government had made the law harsher, it has neither done anything for the victims of these heinous crimes nor to educate or sensitise the minor accused.

Delhi HC raps Centre, says no proper research done before issuing the ordinance. (Photo: IE)

A day after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his approval to an ordinance allowing courts to pronounce death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age, the Delhi High court on Monday pulled up the Centre over the issue, holding that while the government had made the law harsher, it has neither done anything for the victims of these heinous crimes nor to educate or sensitise the minor accused.

“Law made stricter but nothing was done for victims,” the court said in a statement, adding that the government did not undertake proper research before issuing the ordinance.

Amid an uproar over cases relating to sexual offences against children across the country, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cleared the ordinance last week on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) act. The ordinance will give the death penalty to those convicted of raping a child up to 12 years of age.

As per reports, the Centre has cleared the criminal law amendment ordinance and POCSO Act is a part of this amendment. According to news agency PTI, 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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