The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed by a voice vote a legislation prescribing death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years and making the law against such sexual offences more stringent.
The Bill replaces 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 Lok Sabha passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 on July 30.
Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju assured the House that the concerns and issues raised by the members would be looked into by the government, even as he did not agree with the demand of several MPs to send the bill to a Select Committee for scrutiny.
Rijiju said the legislation is aimed at providing safety to minor girls as he highlighted various aspects of the measure. He said the government brought the bill with a sense of urgency because in the last few months, several heart-rending incidents of rape of under- age girls have taken place in the country.
Rijiju said four states had already brought a law in their respective assemblies for capital punishment those who commit rape gainst the girl child who are under the age of 12.
“We have introduced certain changes in the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Court Procedure, Evidence Act and there are consequential effects on prevention of atrocities against children,” the minister said.
The bill stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 12 years. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years. The minimum punishment in cases of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years.
According to the bill, 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”.
Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.