In a major development against the increasing incidents of child rapes in the country, the Union cabinet. on Saturday, cleared the ordinance on 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. The demand for the death penalty to child rapists took centre stage after the two separate cases of gangrape and murder emerged from Jammu’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao.
Official sources said here 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. The ordinance would be now sent to the President for his approval.
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 rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided in the Ordinance.
The Supreme Court, on Friday, was informed that the government was actively considering amending the penal law to introduce death penalty to those convicted of sexually abusing children up to 12 years of age. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, hearing a PIL relating to the brutal rape of an 8-month-old child allegedly by her 28-year-old cousin, was given a copy of a letter by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narasimha to apprise it that the Law Ministry was contemplating changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
As the POCSO law stands today, the maximum punishment for “aggravated assault” is life in jail. The minimum sentence prescribed is seven years in jail. After the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, when the criminal laws were amended, a provision of death penalty in case the woman either dies or is left in a “vegetative state” after rape was introduced through an ordinance which later became the Criminal Law Amendment Act. On Friday, the government informed the Supreme Court that it is actively considering amending the penal law to introduce death penalty to those convicted of sexually abusing children up to 12 years of age.