The government on Saturday approved ordinance amending the penal law to introduce death penalty to those convicted of sexually abusing children up to 12 years of age. The move is seen against the backdrop of massive outrage over the incidents of rape of minors in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao and Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua.
The ordinance approved will amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act adding provisions of death sentence to those convicted of committing rape on children up to 12 years.
As the POCSO law stood till date, the maximum punishment for “aggravated assault” is life in jail. The minimum sentence prescribed is seven years in jail.
On Friday, the government had even informed Supreme Court that it is actively considering amending the penal law to introduce death penalty to those convicted of sexually abusing children up to 12 years of age.
After the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, when the 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.
“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,” a law ministry official had told the press.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last week said that no criminal will be spared and daughters will get justice. He said such incidents shake our sensibilities.
Even President Ram Nath Kovind had condemned the incidents as “heinous” and “shameful”, and said it was the first responsibility of any society to ensure security of children.
(With inputs from PTI)