Lok Sabha passed a bill which seeks to provide death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12. This bill will now replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21 following the brutal rape of a minor in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir and a minor at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. This bill will now be sent to Rajya Sabha.
Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, while moving the bill said that in cases of “gruesome incidents” of rape of minors below the age of 12, the sentence can be extended to death. Bill seeks for making it mandatory for the investigation into a rape case to be completed within two months.
He also added that the in cases of rape of minors under the age of 16, the punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years extendable to life imprisonment, which means jail term till convict’s “natural life”. Apart from this, under the proposed law, the timeline for disposal of appeals against rape conviction has been fixed at six months. The new provisions also propose that the rape cases trials should be presided over by the woman and the statement in these cases should be recorded by a woman police officer.
The proposed law also bars a defence lawyer from raising questions about a “victim’s character”. The bill was mostly well-received across the political spectrum, however, few questioned the ordinance route to enact the law.
Reportedly, the LS session was chaired by Deputy Speaker M Thambi Durai who suggested that the provisions of this legislation be given maximum publicity, which would act as a deterrence. The Minister agreed to this.