The Lok Sabha today passed the landmark Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018. The bill provides for stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
The amendment bill, once approved by Rajya Sabha, will replace the Criminal Law ( Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21, following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of another woman in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Several states, including Haryana and Rajasthan, have already passed such a law in their assemblies.
The bill stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 12 years. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years. The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts' "natural life".
The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.
Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.
Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death. The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial.
The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.
The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years. It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.
Highlights of the Bill
The bill amends the IPC, 1860 to increase the minimum punishment for rape of women from seven years to ten years.
Rape and gang rape of girls below the age of 12 years will carry minimum imprisonment of twenty years and is extendable to life imprisonment or death.
Rape of girls below the age of 16 years is punishable with imprisonment of twenty years or life imprisonment.
Key Issues and Analysis
The bill amends the IPC, 1860 to increase the punishment for rape of girls.
However, punishment for rape of boys has remained unchanged. This has resulted in greater difference in the quantum of punishment for rape of minor boys and girls.
The bill imposes death penalty for rape of girls below the age of 12 years.
There are differing views on death penalty for rape.
Some argue that death penalty has a deterrence effect on the crime and therefore helps prevent it. Others argue that death penalty would be disproportionate punishment for rape.