New Delhi: A day after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his nod to an ordinance confirming death penalty for those convicted for raping minors, a citizen survey has now shown that nearly 76 percent of the people agree with it. The survey, which was conducted by NGO LocalCircles, saw nearly 18 percent of the respondents voting in favour of life imprisonment without parole for convicted rapists while three percent said that they (child rape convicts) should be given a seven-year jail term (which is the current law).
To catch the citizens' pulse on the Union Cabinet's latest move to allow an ordinance to amend the existing Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in view of a national outrage over the Kathua rape-and-murder case and similar incidents from across the country, the LocalCircles conducted six nation-wide polls on the issue.
The survey received more than 40,000 votes.
In the second poll, nearly 89 percent respondents agreed that they want their respective states to pass a stringent law that awards death penalty to child rapists within six months.
It is to be noted that the state governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh have recently passed a law that awards death penalty for child rape.
In another poll, which was about engaging more women officers to register cases of sexual assault, it was found that 78 percent citizens were in support of every district level police station to have at least one woman officer.
For the fourth poll, on the maximum time taken by the police to file a chargesheet in cases of child rape, only 28 percent said it should be done within 30 days, while 25 percent said 45 days.
The results of the fifth poll found that 65 percent people want POCSO judges to only handle cases which are related to child sexual abuse.
The final poll on the maximum time taken for justice in cases of child rape under POCSO act, 85 percent citizens said it should be within six months.
The Union Cabinet - headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi - held a meeting on Saturday, where the ordinance to award death penalty to those who are convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age was passed.
In case of rape of a girl aged under 16 years, the minimum punishment to be awarded has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, which is extendable to life imprisonment.
The minimum punishment to those raping a girl aged under 12 will be 20 years imprisonment. The Cabinet also decided to put in place measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases.
Earlier, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, the maximum punishment for "aggravated assault" was life imprisonment while the minimum sentence prescribed was seven years in jail.
The government had on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it is actively considering amending the penal law to introduce death penalty to those convicted of sexually abusing children up to 12 years of age. "An ordinance today is the best way to deal with the issue. An amendment bill will have to wait (till July) when the Monsoon Session commences," the Law Miinistry had said.
After the Nirbhaya case in December 2012, when the criminal laws were amended, a provision of death penalty in case the woman either dies or is left in a "vegetative state" after the rape was introduced through an ordinance which later became the Criminal Law Amendment Act.
The recent incidents of cruelty against minors include that of an eight-year-old girl who was gang-raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district and a nine-year-old who was found dead in Surat after she was allegedly raped for at least eight days before being strangled to death.
(With IANS inputs)