Death penalty for child rapists : Modi government approves Ordinance to be promulgated

The union cabinet today approved an ordinance to amend existing laws to include the death penalty for the rapist of children below 12 years of age. According to reports, the cabinet took up the draft ordinance into consideration and approved the proposed amendments to the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

According to reports, the existing laws provided for life imprisonment under the POCSO Act and after the Nirbhaya case of 2012, the Indian Penal Code was amended to allow the death penalty to rapists if the victim was left dead or in a vegetative state.

Prime Minister Modi had reportedly called for an emergency cabinet meeting after arriving from his 5-day visit to Sweden and UK to discuss the rolling out of the legislation pending in the parliament. The ordinance comes in the wake of many heinous cases of rape and murder of children reported from different parts of the country in recent weeks. Earlier today, the government had informed the Supreme Court that it was in the process of bringing amendments to the POCSO Act.

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In recent months, at least four states have approved the provision for death penalty for the convicted rapists of children below 12 years of age. Madhya Pradesh was the first Indian state to approve the death penalty for child rapists. It was followed by Rajasthan and Haryana.

According to the Economic Times report, the changes made in the law are listed as follows:

  1. Minimum jail term for rape increased to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
  2. In case the victim is under 16, minimum jail term will be 20 years, extendable to end of natural life.
  3. Punishment for the gang rape of an under 16 girl is imprisonment till the end of life.
  4. Minimum imprisonment in cases of rape of a child below 12 is 20 years, life imprisonment or death.
  5. The minimum punishment for the gang-rape of a child below 12 will be imprisonment till the rest of life or death.

The amendment has also proposed for speedy trials to be completed within 2 months for all cases of rape and time limit for disposal of all appeals in rape cases has been set at 6 months. The amendment also rules out the provisions of anticipatory bail for the accused for victims below 16 years of age and the courts have to give notice of 15 days to the public prosecutor and representative of the victim before deciding on the bail plea of the accused.

The centre has also called for the establishment of new Fast Track Courts and appointments of new public prosecutors to deal with rape cases. It also provides for the availability of rape testing kits at all police stations and hospitals and setting up of special forensic laboratories in each state.

The central government has also ordered that the National Crime Records Bureau will maintain national database and profiles of sexual offenders which will be regularly shared and updated with data from all states and UTs.


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