POCSO Act to be amended to include death penalty for rape of minors, Centre tells Supreme Court

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New Delhi | Published: April 20, 2018 3:52:37 PM

The Centre has informed Supreme Court that it is in the process of amending the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act so as to include death penalty for those found guilty of such crimes.

Centre decides to amend POCSO act. (Image: IE)

Amid uproar over cases relating to sexual offences against children across the country, the Centre has informed Supreme Court that it is in the process of amending the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act so as to include death penalty for those found guilty of such crimes. The stand by the Centre in Supreme Court came in response to a Public Interest litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, who sought the maximum sentence of the death penalty for those involved in the rape and brutal murder of minors below 12 years of age, news agency ANI reported. In it report to the apex court, the central government has proposed death penalty to the accused of rape of minors till 12 years of age.

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising of two other judges Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, fixed the matter for further hearing to April 27.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had advocated amending the POCSO to make provision for the death penalty in rape cases in wake of the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.

On Thursday, the minister in a letter to all state government, underlined a series of steps in dealing with sexual offences. The minister also stressed on the need to re-train all police officers especially those involved in collection and preservation of evidence. Gandhi also mooted formation of special teams to deal with sexual offences, especially for dealing with sexual offences against children.

She also offered assistance to state governments in establishing Forensic Laboratories which can be useful for forensic analysis of evidence in the investigation of sexual offences. Gandhi also requested the states to raise awareness among the children in using the e-box set up under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, POCSO Act with child-help line number 1098.

The letter also highlighted that Section 21 of the POCSO Act may be invoked in all cases wherever failure to report or record is noted. As per the Section 21, any officer who fails to report or record the commission of an offence under section 19 and 20 of the Act is liable for punishment.

The girl was raped by eight different men in January this year. After being missing for a week, her body was found in the jungle on January 17.

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