Mumbai: The promulgation of the ordinance by President Ram Nath Kovind to amend 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 allow courts to award the punishment of death sentence to convicts for raping children up to 12 years, has been welcomed by lawyers and activists alike in the city.
Some of them however said that the reduction in the period of conducting trial and appeals could be misused. The period of trial and appeals has been fixed to be completed within two to six months.
Speaking about the amendment senior advocate Sujay Kantawala said, “This is a very positive development and will pave the way to a better the judicial process in this area.” He however warned against the misuse adding that it would be sad if anyone who is framed is held guilty. To avoid this he said that the prosecution must ensure and satisfy themselves first if that accused is really guilty or has been targeted to settle other scores.
Activist and national secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association Kiran Moghe also welcomed the amendment but said, “The Modi government’s decision to introduce the death penalty for cases of rape of minors is a knee jerk reaction to cover up and distract attention from the complicity of the police and BJP elected representatives in the horrific Kathua and Unnao rape cases.” She however lamented the present conviction rates that are as low as 18 per cent. “Most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the survivors; the death penalty will probably result in more under reporting. Trials should certainly be time bound, and those responsible for delays should also face punitive action,” said Ms Moghe.