In the three months since April 21, when the government promulgated the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance providing for the death penalty for the rape of girls below age 12 — the Ordinance has been replaced by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, passed by Lok Sabha Monday — courts in at least two states have already sentenced four convicts to death under the provisions of the Ordinance.
These states are Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, both of which had also passed their own laws with the same provision. Their Bills were pending central clearance when the Ordinance took effect. Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, too, had passed similar laws providing for the death sentence for the rape of girls below age 12.
The Madhya Pradesh Assembly unanimously passed its Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak on December 4, 2017, proposing amendments to sections of the IPC and CrPC, and was waiting for the President’s assent when the Centre passed the Ordinance.
This month, courts in the state have passed two death sentences under provisions of the Ordinance. On July 7, a court in Rehli of Sagar district sentenced Bhaggi alias Narayan Patel, 40, to death for the rape of a nine-year-old child in a temple on May 21. Bhaggi was arrested on May 22, and the chargesheet was filed within 72 hours.
On July 27, Rajkumar Kol, 35, an autorickshaw driver, was sentenced to death by a POCSO court for the rape of a kindergarten student in Katni town. She had told her mother that the “auto wale bhaiyya” had kissed her, penetrated her with his finger, beaten her, and asked not to disclose it to anyone. Kol, who drove the six-year-old girl to school, was arrested on July 7, and the chargesheet was filed on July 18. He was sentenced to death under IPC section 376 AB, introduced by way of the amendment.
Also on July 27, Jitendra Kushwah, an ice candy vendor, was given a double death sentence by a Gwalior court for raping and killing a six-year-old girl he had lured from a wedding hall in the intervening night of June 20 and 21. He was arrested on June 22, the chargesheet was filed 10 days later. The double death sentence was handed under sections 376AB as well as 302.
Besides these, there have been four more death sentences in rape cases in Madhya Pradesh this year. Two verdicts came before the Ordinance came into effect. While the other two came after the Ordinance, they related to rapes that predated the Ordinance.
The Rajasthan government had passed its Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill in March. It introduced sections 376AA (rape for girls up to age 12) and 376DD (gangrape for girls up to age 12), with both offences punishable with death.
On July 21, special judge Jagendra Kumar Agarwal of Alwar’s SC/ST court convicted Pintu, 19, for raping a seven-month-old child on May 9 this year, and sentenced him to death under Section 376AB of the central Ordinance.
Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh too had passed their Bills in March, with similar provisions. After the Ordinance came, Haryana informed the Centre that the state was adopting the law, DGP B S Sandhu said.