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.
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
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.