The Madhya Pradesh assembly on Monday unanimously passed a bill that will see rapists of girls 12 years or below being hanged till death. The move comes after the Shivraj Singh Chouhan Cabinet approved the bill last week. Called Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017, the bill will be sent to the Centre and will need the assent of the President to become a law.
The development comes after the latest NCRB report revealed that Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of rape cases in the country. The bill proposes death penalty or a minimum term of 14-year rigorous imprisonment or life imprisonment till death for raping girls aged 12 or less. The minimum punishment increases to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for gang rape of girls aged 12 or less.
The bill also proposes punishment for disrobing, stalking or sex on the pretext of marriage. The jail term increases for second or subsequent offences.
Speaking to ANI on the bill, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said those who rape minor girls were not humans but devils and they didn’t have the right to live. “Jo log 12 saal ki masoom bachhi ka balatkaar karte hain wo manushya nahi pishach hain unhe jeene ka adhikaar nahi (The people who rape 12-year-old girls are not humans but devils. They don’t have the right to live),” Chouhan said.
Giving details about the bill, the chief minister also said repeated stalking would be a non-bailable offence and offenders would be punished. The government had mooted the bill after a 19-year-old woman was allegedly abducted and raped by four men near railway tracks in the vicinity of Bhopal’s Habibganj train station on October 31 when she was returning home after attending her coaching classes, leading to widespread protests across the state. The police too came in the line of fire after it was found that they had delayed in registering the FIR.
The bill proposes terms ranging between three and seven years for harassment (first offence). For second and subsequent offences, the minimum jail term will be seven to 10 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. Stalking will invite jail term of three years for the first offence. Second and subsequent offences will be punished with minimum three years and maximum seven years in jail and fine of Rs 1 lakh.
Another proposed amendment says bail will not be granted to those accused of crimes punishable with seven or more years before hearing the public prosecutor. Assault with intention to disrobe or use of force will be punishable with three or more years for first offence. The term will increase to minimum seven years for second and subsequent offences but the maximum term will be 10 years. Living in or having sex on the pretext of marriage will be punishable with a term up to three years or a fine.