President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, that provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
The amendment replaces the criminal law amendment ordinance promulgated on April 21 after the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua and another woman in Unnao. “This Act may be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018. It shall be deemed to have come into force on the 21st day of April, 2018,” a gazette notification said.
The Act will further amend the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The President’s assent, given on Saturday, came after Parliament approved the amendments to the law last week.
The Home Ministry drafted Criminal Law (Amendment) Act stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years. The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
According to the new law, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts “natural life”.
The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict. Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.
Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death, the Act says. The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial. It has prescribed the time limit for investigation of all cases of rape, saying it has to be mandatorily completed within two months.
The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months. 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.