The government told the Supreme Court on Friday that the process to amend the POCSO Act has been launched, and the special legislation would include death penalty as punishment for raping children under 12.
The Union Cabinet is likely to consider an ordinance to award the death penalty to those convicted of raping a child up to 12 years of age amid widespread outrage across the country over such crimes.
The government plans to bring the ordinance to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, people aware of the development said on Thursday. According to the proposal, those convicted of raping children up to 12 years can also be awarded death penalty.
Under the current law, the maximum punishment for “aggravated assault” is life in jail. The minimum sentence prescribed is seven years in jail.
After the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, when criminal laws were amended, a provision of death penalty in case the woman either dies or is left in a “vegetative state” after rape was introduced through an ordinance which later became the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
The move came even as the government told the Supreme Court on Friday that the process to amend the Act has been launched, and the special legislation would include the death penalty as punishment for raping children under 12.
Additional solicitor general PS Narasimha placed before the court a letter from the deputy secretary of the Union ministry of women and child development, which stated that an amendment to the law was under active consideration. “The ministry proposes to amend the POCSO Act-2012 to introduce the death penalty for abusers in cases of aggravated sexual assault against children,” it read.
The assertion of the Centre assumes significance following the public outcry for the death penalty for such sexual offenders, including the assaulters of an eight-year-old girl who was gangraped and killed in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir recently.
A similar incident was reported in Surat. Police had found the body of a nine-year-old near a cricket field in Bhestan with over 80 injuries.
Post-mortem has revealed she was raped for at least eight days before being strangled.
“An ordinance today is the best way to deal with the issue. An amendment bill will have to wait (till July) when the Monsoon session commences,” said a law ministry official.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last week said that no criminal will be spared and daughters will get justice, referring to the rape cases.
Source : HT