New Delhi: The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday approved ordinance to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age.
The Cabinet in its meet at New Delhi approved an ordinance to be promulgated to provide for stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape particularly of girls below 16 years age and below 12 years of age.
It has also decided to put in place measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases.
The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months. The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months, the officials said.
A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed. There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years, the officials said.
It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.
In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, which is extendable to life imprisonment.
In case of gangrape of a girl below 12 years, punishment will be life imprisonment or death sentence.
Earlier, as per the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) law, the maximum punishment for “aggravated assault” was life in jail. The minimum sentence prescribed was seven years in jail.
Minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, which is extendable to life imprisonment.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act will stand amended once the ordinance is promulgated after the approval of President Ram Nath Kovind.
Enhancing the powers of the judiciary to provide stringent punishment in rape cases, the Cabinet approved a number of measures, such as strengthening the prosecution, besides setting up new fast-track courts in consultation with the states and high courts concerned.
New posts of public prosecutors will be created and special forensic kits for rape cases given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, the officials said.
The National Crime Records Bureau will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders. This data will be regularly shared with the states and the Union territories for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents of sex offenders by the police. The present scheme of ‘One Stop Centres’ for assistance to victim will also be extended to all districts in the country.
Cases of gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu’s Kathua and rape of a 17-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao have provoked the biggest displays of public anger since the gangrape and murder of a young woman in the national capital in 2012.
In a significant development, the Centre on Friday had informed the Supreme Court that it would soon amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 to provide for death penalty to the abuser in cases of aggravated sexual assault or rape against children.
Attorney General KK Venugopal made this submission before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Kanwilkar and DY Chandrachud during the course of hearing on a writ petition filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava.
The counsel brought to the notice of the court that over one-lakh cases were registered under POCSO and only 11,000 cases had been disposed off. He also pleaded for death penalty to those who sexually assault children in the wake of the shocking rape of an eight-month-old infant by a youth in Delhi.
In his first comments on the gruesome incidents of rape in Unnao and Kathua, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last week said that no criminal will be spared and daughters will get justice. He said such incidents shake our sensibilities.
“I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)