Amidst the nationwide outrage over the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, the Centre today told the Supreme Court today that it has begun the process to ensure those convicted of child rape gets death penalty.
This will be by amending the POCSO Act, 2012, it said.
“I am directed to refer to mentioned above writ petition and to inform that issues raised in the petition regarding the amendment of provisions of the POCSO Act, 2012 so as to provide maximum punishment of death penalty for commission of offences of rape of children up to 12 years of age group is under active consideration of the Ministry. The ministry is sensitive to the plight of young children brutally abused in the most horrific manner. The ministry is proposing to amend POCSO Act, 2012 for introducing death penalty for the abuse in the cases of aggravated sexual assault against children. The honorable court shall be appraised in the matter”, said the note by a Deputy Secretary, Government of India handed over the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
This is a U-turn on the part of the government as on the last date of hearing it expressed its objection to award the death penalty to child abusers, rapists and paedophiles, saying “death penalty is not an answer for everything.”
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is hearing a petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava demanding death penalty for those raping children.
Srivastava had filed the PIL drawing the attention of the court to the shocking incident of rape of an eight-month-old girl by her 28-year-old cousin in ShakurBasti of North-West Delhi in January and sought framing of guidelines to ensure that investigation and trial of cases involving rape of children below the age of 12 years, under the POSCO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, should be completed within six months from the date of lodging of the FIR.
On March 12 the SC had directed the Registrars General of all High Courts to give intimation to the registry of the apex court of the district wise pendency of the cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012, along with the status.
The bench also requested the concerned Chief Justices of the High Courts to forward suggestions in the light of the rate of pendency as high as 95% in 2016, as submitted by Srivastava.