The minimum punishment has been enhanced to 20 years’ rigorous imprisonment for gang rape of girls aged 12 or below in the bill.
Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a “historic” bill awarding death to rapists of girls aged 12 or below, becoming the first Indian state to introduce capital punishment as a deterrence against child rapists.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “There are people in society who can be set right only by severe punishments. It (the legislation) will deal with them. We will also raise awareness in society against such crimes.”
“Those who indulge in such heinous crimes are not human beings but devils. They have no right to live. I hope human rights activists will not raise a hue and cry over the provisions of the bill,” he added.
As per the exiting penal provisions, a rapist faces a minimum punishment of rigorous imprisonment of seven years, which may extend to imprisonment for life. The new bill provides death penalty or a minimum term of 14 years in jail or life imprisonment till death for raping girls aged 12 or below.
The Madhya Pradesh bill, named the Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sansodhan) Vidheyak, 2017, will need the President’s assent to become law. Under the bill, capital punishment will be awarded to convicts under Section 376 (A), which is related to rape, and Section 376 (D, A), pertaining to gang rape.
The minimum punishment has been enhanced to 20 years’ rigorous imprisonment for gang rape of girls aged 12 or below in the bill. It also proposes punishment for disrobing a woman, stalking or sex on the pretext of marriage and makes the offence by habitual offenders non-bailable and punishable.
Madhya Pradesh women and child welfare minister Archana Chitnis said, “It is a historic bill. The legislation will certainly help check crimes against women, particularly the minors.”
The bill comes close to the release of data showing that Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of rapes in the country in 2016.
As per government data, 12 girls and women are raped in MP and a gang rape is reported in every 32 hours. The number of cases of crimes against women has jumped from 22,061 in 2013 to 24,135 in 2015, while the number of rapes has increased from 4,335 to 4,391 during the period.