A crucial bill seeking to provide death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha last week.
In another development, the Upper House also passed Constitution (One Hundred Twenty-third Amendment) Bill, 2018 which seeks constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs of India Kiren Rijiju said that it was not a political issue. About victim protection, he said the Home Affairs has a scheme for victim and witness protection and that it is being popularized with gravity across the governments.
He also said that the term is "rigorous imprisonment or death." He also addressed concerns on the gender concerns, and said that the government will take adequate measures to ensure that there is no character assassination of the women. The judge and the statement recording will be done as far as possible by a woman judge and magistrate respectively, he said.
As per the bill, the minimum punishment in cases of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convict's "natural life". The punishment for gangrape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life...
During debate on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, Rupa Ganguly, BJP said child rape convicts and paedophile deserve capital punishment. Congress leader Rajeev Gowda said the Bill is welcome but needs more improvements and he also wanted to reconsider the death penalty clause.
"I welcome this bill, with one or two changes," said DMK MP Tiruchi Siva. He reiterated that the bill needs to make rape gender-neutral and that the bill should include males and transgenders, in addition to female children.
Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD, Bihar) said that if the punishment for murder and rape is the same, that gives a reason for rapists to kill their victims. It is a matter of collective shame for us that a rape victim is not given new clothes when hers are collected for rape tests, he added.
Earlier during the day, the Upper House adopted the amendment passed by the Lok Sabha on NCBC Bill. Moving the bill in the Rajya Sabha, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said it is aimed at providing justice to the socially and educationally backward sections of the society.
The minister said the formula for creamy layer is being continued and from time to time it is being increased. The sub-categorisation of OBCs is a long pending demand and will be considered after Justice Rohini panel submits their recommendation,” he said.
Recalling Atal Bihari Vajpayee's term as Prime Minister, Gehlot said the former PM took efforts to continue reservation.
Gehlot said states' rights won't be infringed. States maintain separate list on OBCs, while Centre maintains a separate lists. If a State wants to add a caste name to the Central list, it will be added after bringing a Bill, he explains.