The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to the the Union cabinet for approval, to replace the Ordinance brought in April, soon after the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua and another woman in Unnao.
MHA officials confirmed that a proposal namely Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill , 2018, which allows courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below 12 years of age, has been sent to the Cabinet. After an approval from the Cabinet, the Bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, starting July 18, they said.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 was introduced in April this year for sexual offences against minor girls. Besides providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below 12 years, it also proposes to set up a National Registry for Sexual offenders, the proposal for which was recently rolled out by MHA. The ordinance was promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind, extending the minimum punishment in cases of rape from rigorous imprisonment of seven to 10 years to life term.
Ordinances are temporary laws which can be issued by the President when Parliament is not in session. The purpose of Ordinances is to allow governments to take immediate legislative action if circumstances make it necessary to do so at a time when Parliament is not in session. It must be approved by Parliament within six weeks of reassembling, failing which it shall cease to operate.
The proposed Bill contains provisions similar to the one provided in the Ordinance for speedy investigation and trial in rape cases. For rape with a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for the rest of life. The punishment for gangrape of a girl under 16 years of age will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict, said officials.
The draft Bill has provisions to make it difficult for rape accused to get bail. There will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gangrape of a girl under 16 years. “It has also been provided that court has to give a notice of 15 days to public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl below 16 years,” an official said.