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Two BJP states contemplate death penalty for rape; face opposition

The Bill - Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017 - is awaiting the President's assent

Sahil Makkar  |  New Delhi 

Two BJP states contemplate death penalty for rape; face opposition

The (BJP)-led government in has passed a Bill in its Assembly to award capital punishment to those found guilty of raping children below the age of 12. The Rajasthan government, too, was contemplating of bringing a similar Bill. Currently, the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for convicts is life imprisonment. The has also suggested that the minimum punishment for be kept 14 years, and 20 years in case of gang The Bill — Dand Vidhi (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017 — is awaiting the President’s assent. The said awarding death punishment would barely be a deterrent. “This is a knee-jerk reaction from the state government,” said Ravi Kant, a and child rights activist. “Rapists would now kill victims to hide their identities. The should instead invest in policing and scientific techniques of investigation. Most accused get away scot-free because of shoddy investigation and victims turning hostile because of threats.” The government brought the Bill following the of a teenager in The girl was returning from her coaching class when four men allegedly abducted and raped her. The state reported the most number of rapes in 2016.

According to the Crime Records Bureau, the state reported 4,882 rapes cases, followed by with 4,816 cases and with 4,189 cases. was also among the states that reported the maximum number of cases for crimes against children. topped this list with 15.3 per cent of cases, followed by at 13.6 per cent and at 13.1 per cent. Two BJP states contemplate death penalty for rape; face opposition The Justice J S Committee, which was set up to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law for speedy trial and enhanced punishment of criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women, had also suggested against imposing the The was set up following public demand for death punishment in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case in in 2012. “The rejected the proposal for as it fails to treat the social foundations of It opined that should not be awarded for the offence of as there was considerable evidence that was not a deterrence to serious crimes. It recommended life imprisonment for rape,” said the summary of the report available on the website of PRS Legislative Research, a not-for-profit organisation. After the report, the government amended the IPC through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, popularly known as the anti-Bill. It introduced several provisions, including Section 376A, which allowed for to be imposed in cases where led to the death of the victim, or left the victim in a persistent vegetative state. The maximum punishment was raised to life imprisonment in case of a non-death. Two years later, the recommended abolition of for all crimes except cases related to terrorism. Madhya Pradesh, which is not bound either by the report or the Justice report, has proposed that should be given to those found guilty of raping children below the age of 12 years. “The is finding it difficult to recommend the to accept the Bill because of the divergent views. The matter has been referred to the Union Law ministry for its opinion,” said an official. Among the other changes, the government has also passed a provision for a three-year jail term for stalking. told reporters that the was currently reviewing the Bill and intends to bring its own Bill in the budget session.

First Published: Sat, December 16 2017. 22:55 IST