Mumbai: The Centre has given its nod to an ordinance to amend the existing Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, allowing courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping minors, and Bollywood is all praise for it.
At the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Awards 2018 function, former actress and producer-director Divya Khosla also spoke in favour of the ordinance.
"I feel that parents should give good education to their children. Our Prime Minister is being cursed by people, which is not right. Parents also have a duty to understand their responsibility. Also, I feel women are considered very strong. But there are such people who consider women as physically weak. Hopefully, the law will serve as a deterrent for them," Khosla said.
Filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, who made her debut with the 2016 hit comedy-drama 'Nil Battey Sannata,' backed the Centre's move.
"It is a good thing that such laws are being created so that all men should respect women. But on the contrary, every law has good and bad aspects. There is also a need to consider this as well," she said.
Calling for social change, she urged other filmmakers to throw light on sexual assault issues, as it was necessary to change the mentality of the society.
"I have always made films for social change. 'Nil Battey Sannata' is one of them. I believe that in the future, if necessary, we will make such films by taking a social change in the country," Tiwari added.
Actor Shahid Kapoor, who won the Best Actor Award for the film 'Padmaavat' at Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Awards, also welcomed the central government's move to award death penalty to child rapists.
"A very harsh punishment is required to create a certain mindset in the people who even think of such horrifying crime. It is important to put something very strong as an example for them. I am very happy that the issue has been brought up. People cannot ignore it now since wrong things are happening every time," the star said.
Actress Shilpa Shetty also lauded the Centre's move as well, saying, "I think it (ordinance of POCSO Act) is a good step. People who do such horrifying crime should be punished in the harshest way possible. The crime itself is so brutal."
Actress Aditi Rao Hydari too voiced her support of the Centre's move to punish child rapists and said, "I am very happy that such a step has been taken by the government. It is a victory for every girl and her parents in this country. It is a great day to get this news."
Actress Kriti Sanon, while praising the move, stressed on the need to fast-track rape cases, so that justice could be served to the victims in a proper manner.
Terming the crime as "animalistic and horrible," she said, "Really glad that such a strong punishment would be given to such people. I am really happy that it has finally happened. I feel angry whenever I hear about such cases. But we have to fast-track such cases. I hope the government would address the issue for ensuring speedy justice to the victims."
Actress Tamannah Bhatia slammed the rise in crimes against women as "disgusting."
"These are so disgusting and are heinous crimes. The idea of rape is itself not good. I am happy about the strong punishment under the amended law. Rape is a crime that should be given the most brutal punishment," Tamannah asserted.
Meanwhile, veteran actress and prominent talk show hostess Simi Garewal welcomed the Centre's move and urged the government to take strict action against the offenders.
"This step is really good. I am unable to sleep at night when I hear about such cases. I don't know what is happening in our country. This is not our India. The government should not only punish the guilty, but they should be publicly punished, so as to instill fear among the people," she asserted.
The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday approved the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, for effective deterrence against the commission of rape, thereby instilling a sense of security among women and especially young girls in the country.
Taking cognisance of the recent incidents of rape in various parts of the country, the Cabinet approved an ordinance to be promulgated to provide for stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape particularly of girls below 16 years, and the death penalty to be awarded to rapists of girls below 12 years of age.
The minimum punishment in case of rape of women was increased from the rigorous imprisonment of 7 to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment was increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
The Cabinet also decided to put in place a number of measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases. It was prescribed that the time limit for investigation of all rape cases had to be mandatorily completed within two months. Furthermore, the time limit for completion of the trial of all rape cases was ascertained for two months.
The Cabinet also provided for a six-month time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases. In terms of gangrape, the Cabinet stated that the punishment for the gangrape of a girl under 16 years of age would invariably be imprisonment for the rest of the life of the convict.
Among other provisions of the ordinance, the Cabinet prescribed that there would be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years. It was also provided that the court would have to give a 15-day notice to the Public Prosecutor and representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in the aforementioned category.
In order to give effect to the legal provisions and to improve the capacity of the criminal justice system to deal with rape cases, the Cabinet stated that new fast-track courts would be set up in consultation with the states/Union Territories (UTs) and high courts. It also mandated the creation of new posts of public prosecutors and related infrastructure in consultation with states and union territories.
The Cabinet also provided for special forensic kits for rape cases to all police stations and hospitals, forensic labs in each state and union territory and dedicated manpower for investigation in a time bound manner.
Furthermore, the National Crime Records Bureau was directed to maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders. This data will be regularly shared with states/UTs for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents by police.
The Cabinet also stated that the present scheme of One Stop Centres for assistance to rape victims would be extended to all districts in the country.
Soon after, the Centre submitted its report while responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, seeking the maximum sentence of the death penalty to those offenders involved in the rape and brutal murder of children between the age group of 0 to 12.
The Supreme Court's three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra along with Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, fixed the matter for further hearing on April 27.