The Law Ministry will soon propose a scheme that it wants the Home Ministry to implement to the Union Cabinet on setting up fast track courts across India to try rape cases and strengthen the infrastructure for better investigations and swift prosecution.
The new scheme to strengthen investigation and prosecution to deal with rape cases is part of an ordinance recently promulgated to allow courts to award the death penalty to those convicted of raping children aged up to 12 years.
The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Ordinance amended the IPC, the CrPC, the Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
While bringing out the ordinance, the government had decided to frame a scheme to set up an "appropriate" number of fast track courts to try rape cases in the states.
The proposed scheme will include components on strengthening of the physical infrastructure and prosecution machinery, provision of the required number of judicial officers for lower courts, additional posts of public prosecutors, dedicated investigators and special forensic kits.
"While the department of justice has initiated the action for preparation of the said scheme, it is felt that it would be appropriate that the scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs keeping in view the fact that most of the actions involved and stakeholders are being administered by the MHA," Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry has said in a recent letter to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha.
The Law Ministry would take the issue up with the MHA, he said.
The proposal is expected to come up shortly before the Cabinet.
In April, the government had issued an ordinance to provide stringent punishment, including death, for those convicted of raping minors up to the age of 12 years, amid a nation-wide outrage over cases of sexual assault and the murder of minors in Kathua and Surat and the rape of a girl in Unnao.
New fast-track courts will be set up to deal with such cases and special forensic kits for rape cases will be given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, according to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance.
It stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years. The death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.
The minimum punishment in the case of rape of women has been increased from a rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed and has to be now completed within two months.
The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months, officials said. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
Enhancing the powers of the judiciary to provide stringent punishments in rape cases, the government had approved a number of measures such as strengthening the prosecution, besides setting up new fast-track courts in consultation with the states and high courts concerned.
New posts of public prosecutors will be created and special forensic kits for rape cases given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, the officials said.
Dedicated manpower will be provided for investigation of rape cases in a time-bound manner.
Special forensic labs exclusively for rape cases would also come up in each state.
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