Cabinet to take up ordinance on death penalty for child rapists today

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New Delhi: The Union cabinet will take up for consideration on Saturday draft ordinance prescribing the death penalty for those convicted of raping children below 12 years according to the government sources.

The move seeking the death penalty for child rapists comes in the backdrop of nationwide outrage over the brutal rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, the alleged rape of a minor in Unnao by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator, and rising anger over a spate of such incidents being reported over the past few weeks. On Friday, for instance, at least three such instances were reported, one from Etah, Uttar Pradesh (the second such in the same place in the same week), the second from Chhattisgarh, and a third from Odisha.

On Friday, the government also informed the Supreme Court that it is actively considering amending the penal law to introduce the death penalty to those convicted of sexually abusing children up to 12 years of age.

“Because the Parliament is not in session and considering the urgency of the situation, we have decided to bring an ordinance to implement the changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012,” said a senior official in the ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD).

Currently, the maximum punishment for aggravated sexual assault on minors under the POCSO Act is life imprisonment.