NEW DELHI: In a bid to blunt the public outrage following the brutal gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, the Union Cabinet on Saturday cleared the ordinance seeking death penalty for rape of girls below 12 years. The move comes in the backdrop of rising instances of such incidents being reported from various parts of the country, threatening to dent the image of the BJP, which is gearing up for a tough electoral battle in Karnataka.
On Saturday, the Council of Ministers went into a huddle upon the return of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from his foreign trip and sought to send out a strong signal that the government will not tolerate violence against children. While the ordinance seeks death penalty for rape of girls below 12, the minimum punishment for the same would be 20 years in jail.
The punishment for rape of a girl below 16 would entail imprisonment for rest of the convict’s life, while the minimum punishment would be enhanced from the current 10 years to 20 years. In view of low conviction rates in cases of rape, the ordinance, which is due for the assent of President Ram Nath Kovind, calls for time-bound investigation and trial.
“Investigation in all cases of rape has to be mandatorily completed within two months, while trials of all cases must be completed in two months. The time limit to dispose of the appeals in rape cases will be six months,” it noted.
There would be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang-rape of a girl under 16 years, while the court has to give 15 days notice to the public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications.
The Cabinet decision has come at a time when the BJP is struggling to retrieve its image ruined by delayed actions against the accused in the Unnao rape case and the late decision in sacking two J&K ministers, who had taken part in a rally in defence of the accused in the Kathua gang-rape case.
It also proposes the National Crime Records Bureau to maintain a database and profiles of sexual offenders.
- Rape of women Increased from 7 years rigorous imprisonment to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
- Rape of girl under 16 Increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life.
- Gang-rape of girl under 16 Invariably imprisonment for rest of life.
- Rape of girl under 12 Minimum 20 years’ imprisonment/imprisonment for rest of life/death.
- Gang-rape of girl under 12 Imprisonment for rest of life or death sentence .
- 2 months deadline for investigation and trials in rape cases.