New Delhi: The ordinance which allows courts to award the death penalty to those convicted of sexually assaulting children aged below 12 also enhances the minimum sentence for rape from seven years to 10 years in jail. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
After the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, when the criminal laws were amended, the minimum sentence for raping a woman was kept at seven years of rigorous imprisonment which could be extended to life in jail.
According to the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 2018 approved by the Union Cabinet today, the minimum sentence for raping a woman will now be 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, “extendable to life imprisonment”. Life in jail means that the convict would not be released from prison till the end of his “natural life”.
Once the ordinance is promulgated, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act will stand amended to make way for new provisions. The ordinance also proposes setting up new fast track courts in states to try cases of child rapes.
As many as 524 fast-track courts are functional in the country, and the Centre is trying to sensitise state governments to set up more such courts to try cases related to women, children, the marginalised and senior citizens. Of the 524 fast track courts, 183 are in Uttar Pradesh, 100 in Maharashtra, 39 in Tamil Nadu, 38 in Andhra Pradesh, and 34 in Telangana, according to the data quoted by the Law Ministry in Parliament.
The 14th Finance Commission has endorsed the proposal to strengthen the judicial system, including by setting up 1,800 fast track courts. Setting up of subordinate courts, including fast track courts, is the responsibility of state governments.
The 14th Finance Commission has urged state governments to use the additional fiscal space provided by it in the tax devolution to meet the requirements, including those related to strengthening the judicial system and establishing fast track courts.