In the wake of brutal rape cases in the country, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday approved an ordinance allowing courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age.
The ordinance would be now sent to the President for his approval.
The decision came a day after the Ministry of Women and Child Development told the Supreme Court that it was proposing the death penalty for those convicted of raping children.
The Ministry had told the apex court that the government was “sensitive to the plight of young children” brutally abused in the most horrific manner, and proposed to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act by introducing the death penalty to the convicts of child rapes.
The Cabinet move came in the backdrop of nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and other instances in different parts of the country including a nine-year-old girl in Surat.
The POCSO Act was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
Here are 10 facts you need to know about the ordinance:
1. The ordinance provides for death penalty to be awarded to rapists of girls below 12 years of age.
2. The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
3. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
5. In rape or gangrape of a girl below the age of 12, the cabinet said the accused would be sent to 20 years’ imprisonment, imprisonment for life or death.
6. The cabinet also decided to put in place a number of measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases. It has been prescribed that the time limit for investigation of all rape cases has to be mandatorily completed within two months. Furthermore, the time limit for completion of trial of all rape cases has been ascertained as two months.
7. The cabinet has also provided for a six month time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases.
8. There will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years. It has also been provided that the court would have to give a 15-day notice to the Public Prosecutor and representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in the aforementioned category.
9. Cabinet stated that new fast track courts will be set up in consultation with states/UTs and High Courts. It also mandated the creation of new posts of public prosecutors and related infrastructure in consultation with states and union territories.
10. The cabinet also provided for special forensic kits for rape cases to all police stations and hospitals, forensic labs in each state and union territory and dedicated manpower for investigation in a time bound manner.v