New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a crucial bill that allows death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 and enhances the minimum punishment for rape of a woman from seven to 10 years.
The bill seeks to replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21, following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of another woman at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
The minimum punishment for the rape of a girl under 12 will be 20 years of rigorous imprisonment with the maximum being death sentence or life imprisonment.
Earlier, the punishment was rigorous imprisonment ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told the House in his reply to the debate on the Bill. For gang-rape of a girl below 12, the punishment will be life imprisonment or death.
The stringent law was aimed at ensuring safety of minor girls, he added.
The Minister said the existing Indian Penal Code speaks about punishment for those convicted of raping a woman, but there was no provision for rape or gangrape of minor girls below 16 or 12 years of age.
He said the recent incidents of rape and gangrape of girls below the age of 12 years has shaken the conscience of the entire nation.
“Therefore, the offences of rape and gangrape of women under the age of 12-16 years require effective deterrence through legal provisions of more stringent punishment,” he added.
During the debate, Deputy Speaker M Thambi Durai, who was in the Chair, suggested that the provisions of the legislation be given maximum publicity, which would act as a prevention.
The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.
A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed, besides there will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gangrape of a girl under 16 years.