Cabinet approves `death-for-child-rapist' ordinance

Erika Holt
April 22, 2018

According to the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 2018 approved by the Union Cabinet today, the minimum sentence for raping a woman will now be 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, "extendable to life imprisonment".

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act provides for graded punishment for offenders depending upon brutality of the crime, the ASG had told the top court.

On Saturday, the Centre has approved the ordinance of the death penalty to the rapists of children.

The cabinet also prescribed measures for stronger punishment and faster trials in rape cases, a government document showed.

In Kathua of Jammu and in Uttar Pradesh's Eta, the incidents of rape with minor girls have shaken the country, after which the government has decided to make strict provision for rape of minor girls.

At least nine suspects, including an MP from the ruling Bharatiya Janata party and four police officials, have been arrested in the two recent cases in the Jammu-Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh states.

A decision to issue an ordinance for this goal was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

"Hence we do take note of the argument that introduction of death penalty for rape may not have a deterrent effect".

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For instance, the conviction rate in these cases continue to be very low and many have pointed out that just bringing in death penalty is unlikely to increase conviction or impact implementation of laws and the slow moving judicial process.

During the protests the women and children's minister, Maneka Gandhi, pledged to seek changes to the law, including the death penalty for cases involving the rape of minors. Several rape cases have been registered in the recent times on children below 10 years.

There were 40,000 rapes reported in 2016.

In 2007, meanwhile, a government study found that 53 per cent of children surveyed said they had experienced sexual abuse.

In the horrifying case in Kathua, Asifa Bano, eight, was gang-raped for three days at an Indian temple.

New fast-track courts will be set up to deal with such cases and special forensic kits for rape cases provided to police stations and hospitals in the long term, according to the ordinance.

After the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, when 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. "I have been battling over last six years to secure justice for my daughter and yet the culprits have not been hanged", he said.

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