The concern shown by the top court and the chief justice of India in taking up the alarming rise in child sexual assault cases is laudable. The fact that 24,212 FIRs were registered in the first six months this year is a pointer to how shockingly prevalent such assaults on the most innocent of people have become. The suggestion from the top court that special courts be set up to fast-track cases is most welcome. The slowness of the justice delivery system has certainly played a part in emboldening these abysmal copycat acts that have brought a bad name to the country while bringing into question the very tenets of a civilised society. Verdicts have been handed down in less than four per cent of the 2019 cases. Unless the justice system looks sharp in disposing of the cases, the notoriety India has gained as the rape capital of the world will remain a national embarrassment.
The proposal for amendments to the Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act to include the death penalty for sexual assault of children was approved by the Cabinet last week. The argument against stringent penalty is not defeated by the fact that there is no gauging whether capital punishment is a successful enough deterrent. Seeing the trend in which rape of children has also been used to inflame enmity between communities in a couple of states, including Jammu & Kashmir, the need for an extreme measure becomes obvious. With fines and jail terms also envisaged for child pornography for the first time in India, the criminal justice system will be empowered to deal with obnoxious deviation from normal behaviour. Rape is an abhorrent crime against humanity and everything, including quick delivery of punishment for offenders, must be done to rid society of this evil.