Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet on Tuesday passed an ordinance approving death penalty for child rapists and enhancing the jail term for those convicted of raping girls aged 13 and above. The J&K Protection of Children from Sexual Violence 2018 ordinance passed by the state Cabinet is similar to the one passed by the Union Cabinet on Saturday. The main feature of the ordinance passed by J&K Cabinet is capital punishment for those convicted of raping a child below 12 years of age.
"By the means of an ordinance, we have brought an amendment to the Criminal Law Ordinance 2018 which will enhance punishment to 20 years/ life imprisonment for sexual offences against women under 13 to 60 years. Under J&K Protection of Children from Sexual Violence 2018 ordinance, death penalty/life imprisonment will be awarded for sexual offences against children up to the age of 12 years. Investigation of cases have to be completed within two months and trial to be completed in six months," said J&K Minister Rural Development Minister Abdul Hak Khan.
The Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party government had declared its intention of bringing in a similar ordinance to the one passed by the Union Cabinet. J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had welcomed the Union Cabinet's move and announced that her government will bring in similar laws to tackle crimes against women, particularly those related to sexual assaults and rapes.
The ordinance passed by the Union Cabinet and signed by President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday amended the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision of capital punishment for child rape convicts.
Before the amendment, the maximum punishment under the POCSO Act for "aggravated assault" was life imprisonment and the minimum sentence was seven years in jail.
The ordinances by the Union as well as J&K Cabinet came in the wake of a spate of rape cases across the country against minor girls.
One of the most heinous cases took place in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir where an eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakarwal community was allegedly kidnapped, sedated, gang-raped and later killed by a group of men. In another such case, an 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped and killed by a close relative. In both cases, police have arrested the accused.
The last major change in laws dealing with sexual assault and rapes was made following the Nirbhaya rape-murder case in December 2012. The death penalty was introduced in case of the woman either dying or being left in a "vegetative state" after rape.