President Ramnath Kovind on Sunday promulgated the ordinance to strengthen the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
In the wake of an increase in incidents of rape of minors, the Union Cabinet on Saturday approved a number of measures to amend the POCSO Act.
As per government sources, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, for effective deterrence against commission of rape, thereby instilling a sense of security among women and especially young girls in the country.
The ordinance seeks death penalty for the rapists of girls below 12 years of age and stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape particularly of girls below 16 years.
The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
In terms of gangrape, the cabinet stated that the punishment for the gang rape of a girl under 16 years of age will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of the life of the convict.
With regards to rape or gangrape of a girl below the age of 12, the cabinet said the accused would be sentenced to 20 years' of imprisonment, imprisonment for life or death.
The cabinet also decided to put in place a number of measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases. It has also provided for a six month time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases.
Among other provisions of the Ordinance, the cabinet prescribed that there will 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 provided that the court would have to give a 15-day notice to the Public Prosecutor and representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in the aforementioned category.