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Written by- Shajeeda Tajdeen

The central cabinet on Saturday (21/04/2018) gave its nod to the much awaited ordinance prescribing Death Penalty for child rapists. The ordinance states that any person who is an accused in raping a child below 12 years of age shall be liable for capital punishment.

By virtue of this ordinance major criminal acts such as the “Indian Evidence Act,” the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,” the “Indian Penal Code (IPC),”and the “Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr. PC)” are sought to be amended. The ordinance also prescribes to increase the range of minimum imprisonment in case of rape of women from 7 to 10 years which can further be extended to life imprisonment. It also talks about increasing the quantum of punishment to 20 years from 10 years in case of raping a girl below 16 years of age. It also states that period of 20 years can be further converted into life imprisonment depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case and it clearly states that in such cases there shall be no provisions for availing anticipatory bail.  The Ordinance also makes provisions for conducting speedy trials and disposing of the cases expeditiously in order to serve justice and punish the perpetrators at the earliest by establishing new fast track courts which are to be set up in consultation with States/UTs and High Courts.

The ordinance comes in the wake of rising sexual crimes against females more particularly against children and infants, for instance, the ‘Kathua and Unnao Rape cases along with rape incidents in Surat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha etc. The Ordinance is set to come into force immediately and will be sent to the President for his receiving his assent.

Presently, the POSCO Act provides for death penalty in rape cases under special circumstances wherein the woman is either left in a vegetative state or in situations where she dies. The Indian Penal Code, also prescribes death penalty for gang rape. But by virtue of this Ordinance the POSCO Act and IPC along with other acts shall undergo an amendment to provide death penalty in cases of child rape.

Previously, the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have made provision for providing death penalty for raping girls below 12 years of age. The need of the hour is to have centralised legislation which seeks to provide capital punishment for such a heinous crime.

Rape is an activity which is serious and grave at all instances whether it be a rape of an infant, child, adolescent, young woman or an old lady. So the gravity and quantum of punishment at levels should be same. Until and unless a country like ours where rape has become a daily activity comes up with stringent provisions to punish the culprits there will not be any reduction in such cases.

Apart from providing punishment the Government should also make provision to ensure safety of females. Further, provisions to eradicate illiteracy and poverty should also be made available because these are the two major provoking factors to commit the crime.

It is time for India to move from the ideology of ‘not getting rape’ to ‘not to rape.”


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