NEW DELHI: Days after the government came up with an ordinance to notify changes in laws that prescribe death penalty for rapists of girls till 12 years of age, India’s Child Rights’ panel is set to push for the age limit to be extended till 16 years.
Those involved in brutal rapes of even older girls—till 16 years of age-- should get the maximum punishment, the National Commission for Protection of Child Right’s feels.
“We are of the view that the government has taken a commendable step by prescribing death penalty for child rapists but the age limit for children should not be restricted till 12 years,” NCPCR member Yashwant Jain told TNIE.
“Those who brutally violate or mutilate children who are older —till 16—should also be liable for death penalty. We will take up this matter with the Union Women and Child Development ministry and urge them to extend the age limit,” Jain said.
The NCPCR proposal is coming at a time when the WCC ministry has made it clear that the law will be made gender neutral and provisions of stricter penalties and capital punishments will also include crimes against boys.
Officials said that the WCD ministry had always wanted the changed laws to include male victims as the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences act is gender neutral but in its proposal, the Union Home Ministry which had moved the note to the cabinet included only girl children.
“Now that there is a move to bring the boy victim in the purview of the changed law, the extended age can be included as well,” Jain said.
The ordinance, brought in the aftermath of brutal rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, was notified by the Centre on April 2. It paved the way for providing stringent punishment to those convicted of raping children by making changes in Criminal Laws pertaining to sexual assault on children below 12 and 16 years.
With the notification, the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 have been amended.
As per the amended law, there is now a provision of death sentence for rapists of girl under 12 years, while in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life.
The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.
The NCPCR, however, is yet to move the proposal to the WCD ministry formally and an official discussion on the matter is yet to happen.