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Centre to amend law to include death penalty for rape of minors below 12 years

Binjal Shah
21st Apr 2018
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Amid nationwide outrage over rising child rape cases, the government starts the process to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO)Act to introduce death penalty for rape of minors aged below 12 years. 

The Centre has written to the Supreme Court, stating that it is strongly considering making an amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to incorporate a maximum punishment of death penalty for convicted rapists of children below the age of 12. Until now, the maximum punishment as prescribed by the POCSO Act is life imprisonment.

The process has been initiated, and the ordinance required to make the amendment will likely be presented to the Union Cabinet today, according to an ANI report.

The accused in the Kathua rape case: Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria, and Vishal Jangotra

In a TV interview a few days ago, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had said, “I am deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, asking for the death penalty for rape on children below 12 years.”

Besides the national and international outrage displayed by civilians as they took to the streets demanding justice for all the rape cases that came to light over the past fortnight, a PIL had also been filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava seeking this amendment. Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chief Swati Maliwal had also gone on an indefinite hunger strike at Rajghat, demanding urgent affirmative action, and the implementation of the most stringent laws for rapists. She is fighting to see the perpetrators of the crimes carried out in Kathua, Unnao, and Surat get the gallows.

“If PM Modi could implement demonetisation in a single night, then he could ensure a system for women’s safety,” she had said.

This matter will be heard by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on April 27.

Meanwhile, 33-year-old Swati has resolved to go on with the fast until the law is actually passed. "Every day affidavits are submitted in courts by the government. Unless the law comes into enforcement, I won't stop. The law has to be death penalty within six months to those convicted for raping minors," she said.

Her hunger strike was on its eighth day going on nine, as of yesterday.

It is worth noting that some states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh have already passed a bill seeking capital punishment for the rape of children between the years 0-12.

There were nationwide protests when the chargesheet in the case of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua came to the fore. Another minor victim of rape has been fighting for justice for a year, but to no avail, against incumbent BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar. A shocking new development was when her father, taken in custody while he was fighting for justice for his daughter, was beaten up until he succumbed to his injuries. The rape of an 11-year-old girl from Surat came to light recently, and the 80 injuries on her body showed that she had been raped and tortured for eight days before she was murdered.

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