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Government issues ordinance on death penalty for child rapists

Government issues ordinance on death penalty for child rapists

Following a nationwide uproar over the rape of two minors in Kathua and Unnao, the Union Cabinet could, in its meeting on Saturday, take a decision on bringing an Ordinance to award death penalty to those convicted of sexually assaulting a child. Subsequently, a draft Cabinet note was prepared and sent to the Law Ministry.

As the POCSO law stood Friday, the maximum punishment for "aggravated assault" is life in jail. The death penalty has been provided for rapists of girls below 12 years of age. The cabinet has also said that measures will be put in place so that the investigation and trial in rape cases are faster. She called the gangrape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua "revolting" and hoped "Indian authorities, starting with Prime Minister Modi pay more attention" to the condition of women. The minimum sentence prescribed is seven years in jail.The Centre's assertion assumes significance as it comes in the wake of public outcry for award of death penalty to such sexual offenders.

Attorney General KK Venugopal made this submission before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Kanwilkar and DY Chandrachud during the course of hearing on a writ petition filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava. The Centre, on February 1, 2018, told the court death penalty was not the answer for every child sex abuse case and that graded penalties for graded offences have been provided under the POCSO Act, 2012.

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In the aftermath of the horrific Kathua rape and murder case involving an 8-year old minor girl, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi had earlier last week opined that she was in favour of amending the POSCO act.

"An ordinance today is the best way to deal with the issue". He said such incidents shake our sensibilities. "Our daughters will get justice", he had said at an event to inaugurate the B R Ambedkar memorial here. The person who is committing these crimes is also someone's son, he said, adding that rape of a daughter is a matter of shame for the country.