The Parliament on 6 August 2018 passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which ensures stringent punishment for those convicted of raping girls below 12 years of age. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha last month and on 6 August 2018, it was unanimously passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote. – Child Welfare Legislation
The bill will now replace the Criminal Law Ordinance, promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind on 22 April after the incident of rape and murder case of a minor girl in Kathua and in Unnao rape case.
The proposed bill has prescribed the punishment for rape of a child by categorizing the child into 3 age groups- 12 or below 12 years, 12-16 years and 16 to 18 years.
The bill also amends the relevant sections of the IPC, CrPC and POCSO Act.
Amendments to IPC :
- Minimum ten years imprisonment for rape: Section 376(1) IPC sought to be amended to increase the minimum punishment for rape of women from imprisonment for seven years to imprisonment for ten years. The punishment may extend up to life imprisonment.
- Minimum twenty years imprisonment for the rape of a child below 16: Sub-section(3) sought to be inserted in Section 376 to make rape of girl below the age of 16 years punishable with minimum twenty years of imprisonment. The punishment may extend up to life imprisonment.
- Death for the rape of a girl aged below 12 years: Section 376AB sought to be inserted to make rape of a child aged below the age of 12 years punishable with death.
- Life imprisonment for the gang rape of girl below 16 years: Section 376DA sought to be inserted to provide for life imprisonment for those involved in gang rape of girl below under age of 16 years. It is also mentioned that life imprisonment shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of the natural life of the convict.
- Death for gang-rape of a girl aged below 12 years: Section 376DB sought to be inserted to provide for the death penalty for the gang rape of girl below the age of 12 years.
- Section 228A IPC sought to be amended to include offences under newly inserted Sec.376(3), 376DA, and 376DB under the bar of disclosure of victim’s identity.
- Section 166A to be IPC amended to provide for the punishment of public servant failing to register a complaint in cases under newly inserted sections.
Amendments to Criminal Procedure Code:
- Speedy Investigation: Investigation of cases to be completed within two months, as per sub-section (1A) sought to be inserted in Section 173, Cr.PC. and the case should be tried in a fast-track court. Apart from this, only a woman judge will hear the rape case and a woman police officer will record the statement of rape victims.
- Appeal: Appeal against a sentence by a trial court must be disposed of within 6 months.
- No anticipatory bail: Section 438 CrPC sought to be amended to state that no anticipatory bail can be granted to persons accused under newly inserted offences.
- Restrictions on regular bail: Regular bail applications under Section 439 for persons accused under newly inserted offences can be heard only after fifteen days’ notice to the public prosecutor.
The First Schedule of Cr.P.C is sought to be amended to clarify that the new offences are non-bailable and cognizable, to be tried by Court of Session.
Section 42 of the POCSO Act is sought to be amended to clarify that greater amongst the punishments under IPC and POCSO will be applicable for the acts.
LL.M. (Access to Justice)
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
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