The Centre has submitted a letter to the Supreme Court stating that they have initiated a process to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to ensure the maximum punishment of death penalty for rapists of children below the age of 12, ANI has reported.
The Centre was responding to a PIL filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava. The matter, being heard by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misrais, is scheduled to be heard next on April 27.
In the wake of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, there is a nationwide clamour for the most stringent action for the perpetrators in the case. The rape case of an 11-year-old girl from Surat, too, has evoked a sharp response from the opposition.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal had gone on a hunger strike demanding death penalty for the accused in Kathua and Unnao rape cases. The hunger strike, which was ongoing for ten days ended on Friday after the Centre’s submission in Supreme Court to amend the POCSO Act. Maliwal, during her fast, had insisted that: “If PM Modi could implement demonetisation in a single night, then he could ensure a “system for women’s safety.”
Voicing her concern over the Kathua incident, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had said: “I am deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent rape cases that have happened on children. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act asking for the death penalty for rape on children below 12 years”.
The minister had said this in a television interview last week.
Some state assemblies — Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh — have passed a Bill approving capital punishment for rape of children between the years 0-12.
(With inputs from ANI)