Terming the Kathua rape case an extremely disturbing incident, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi today advocated death penalty for rape of children below 12 years and proposed an amendment to the POCSO Act.
"I have been deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the (women and child development) ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for death penalty for rape of children below 12 years," she said.
Her ministry will move a cabinet note on Monday to amend the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, she said, responding to media persons' queries here.
At present, there is no provision for capital punishment in the POCSO Act, with the maximum sentence being life imprisonment for penetrative sexual assault as well aggravated penetrative sexual assault.
An eight-year-old girl in Kathua in the Jammu region, who belonged to the minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in the forests on January 10.
A week later, her body was found in the same area, and medical examination pointed towards sexual assault.
During initial investigations, the police arrested a juvenile. Later, the case was transferred to the Jammu and Kashmir Police's Crime Branch.
Two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and later, another five people, including a former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, who surrendered before the Special Investigation Team, were arrested.
The Union minister defended the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, saying it was serious about the Unnao incident and had transferred the case to the CBI.
"The accused will not be spared, whether he is an MLA or any powerful and influential person. Our government will not make any compromise on the issue of punishing the culprit," she said.
Gandhi, who was in Chandauli district to take stock of developmental works, held a meeting with administration officials at the collectorate and directed them to ensure that the benefits of central schemes reach the grassroots level.
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