New Delhi: The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday approved ordinance to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children below the age of 12.
The ordinance was approved a day after the Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it would soon amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 to provide for death penalty to the abuser in cases of aggravated sexual assault or rape against children.
It has also decided to put in place measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases.
In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, which is extendable to life imprisonment.
Earlier, as per the POCSO law, the maximum punishment for “aggravated assault” was life in jail. The minimum sentence prescribed was seven years in jail.
Attorney General KK Venugopal made this submission before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Kanwilkar and DY Chandrachud during the course of hearing on a writ petition filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava.
The new law was amended in the aftermath of cases of gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu’s Kathua and rape of a 17-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao that have provoked the biggest displays of public anger since the 2012 gangrape and murder of a young woman in the national capital.