President approves death sentence for rape of minors


The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, promulgated The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 on Sunday, thus paving the way for the death sentence to be handed down in cases involving rape of minors. This ordinance amends the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), The Indian Penal Code (IPC) and The Evidence Act.

Earlier, the Union Cabinet, on Saturday, had approved this stringent ordinance which sanctions a lengthier jail term or even death for those convicted of raping children below the age of 12 years. The punishment for gang rape of victims below 16 years of age has also been enhanced up to life imprisonment.

In addition to this, the ordinance includes plans for specialized forensic labs and rape investigation kits for police stations to ensure evidence is gathered and analyzed speedily. The ordinance also seeks to ensure speedy investigation and trial of rape cases and includes provisions for a two-month time limit for investigation, two months for completion of trial and six months for disposal of appeals. There will henceforth be no anticipatory bail for any person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

After PM Modi’s return from a tour of Sweden and UK, he reviewed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 which seeks to provide “effective deterrence” against rape. Reportedly, the government took serious note of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and framed a comprehensive response that includes tough sentences and time-bound trials. It appears that the ordinance follows Modi’s statement in Delhi last week and then in the UK that ‘there should be no politics over rape.’

According to the ordinance, the minimum punishment for the rape of a girl below 16 years of age has been raised from 10 years to 20 years – the maximum punishment for such offenses has been enhanced to include life long imprisonment. The punishment for the gang-rape of a girl below 16 years of age is now imprisonment for the rest of the natural life of the convict.

Earlier, while speaking about the Kathua rape incident, PM Modi had said, “Such incidents shake our sensibilities. I want to assure the nation that no criminal will be spared. Justice will be done. Our daughters will get justice.”

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