Death penalty for child rapists: Modi Cabinet approves Ordinance
The Cabinet on Saturday cleared the ordinance seeking death penalty for those raping children under 12. The proposal to amend the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was a result of a nationwide outcry after the Kathua, and Surat rape cases. Recently, the Centre had told Supreme Court it was planning stricter punishments for child offenders.
In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment; minimum 20 years’ imprisonment or life imprisonment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided in the Ordinance.— ANI (@ANI) April 21, 2018
The Modi government has been severely slammed for the alarming rise of child rapes in India. Even International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde called out Modi on Thursday. She called the Kathua gangrape "revolting" and urged "Indian authorities, starting with Prime Minister Modi pay more attention" in ensuring the safety of Indian women.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi suggested introducing death penalty for child rapists last week amid impassioned public uproar and demand for action over the alarming spike in such cases. Currently, child-rape convicts can get anywhere between seven years' prison term to life imprisonment. Interestingly, the government had dismissed the idea of capital punishment for raping a minor in the Supreme Court three months ago.
"Death penalty isn't the answer to everything," the Centre had said then. Why the U-turn now? Certainty of punishment in every case and not harsher sentences act as efficient deterrents, say experts. According to the NCRB data, only 3-4 out of every 10 charged with child rape get convicted in India. Stringent punishments will help only when supported with robust conviction rates.