A day after the Union Cabinet’s approval, President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday promulgated an ordinance to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which allows death penalty to those found guilty of raping children below 12 years of age.
Early on Saturday, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a number of measures to amend the POCSO Act.
The new amendments included death penalty to those convicted of raping a minor below 12 years of age and stringent punishment for perpetrators found guilty of raping girls below 16 years.
Talking about the latest development, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, "This is a historic decision by the cabinet."
"Such a law is needed to punish people who commit such heinous crimes. This decision has been welcomed unanimously," Singh added.
This is a historic decision by the cabinet, such a law is needed to punish people who commit such heinous crimes. This decision has been welcomed unanimously: HM Rajnath Singh on ordinance to amend POCSO act pic.twitter.com/A0lEDKKjug— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2018
The government has also decided to put in place measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases.
The minimum punishment for rape will now be life imprisonment as opposed to rigorous imprisonment of seven-10 years earlier.
In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of his life.
The decision has been taken against the backdrop of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua. The alleged rape of a minor in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao is among other instances. In yet another heart-shivering incident, an eight-year-old was raped and tortured to death in Gujarat's Surat.
As per the latest figure, released by the government, a child is sexually abused every 15 minutes in India. Uttar Pradesh tops the chart with around 15% crime against minors in the country.
However, the Supreme Court's three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra along with Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, fixed the POCSO Act matter for further hearing on April 27.