New Delhi: A bill that provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below 12 years, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was passed after a reply by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju. It will replace an ordinance brought by the government in April.
Rijiju said that the government should rise to the occasion when the nation feels pained by the incidents of rape on young girls.
"This is shameful for the country and pricks the collective conscience of the nation.
"New provision proposes that court where rape cases are being taken up should be presided by a woman judge. The statement in the rape cases should also be recorded by a woman police officer," he said.
Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai intervened in the middle and suggested the provisions of the amended law must be made available to the public in all regional languages and should be "publicised".
The minister agreed to execute his suggestions. He also spoke about the quality of investigation and how it should be improved and talked about the importance of fast-track courts.
He also said forensic kits should be made available in all police stations for better investigation and forensic laboratories are proposed to be set up in all states and union territories.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said: "Law cannot stop the rape of children and change the mentality of men. This is just symbolism and an eyewash."
The bill seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 to provide that the minimum punishment for rape of a woman under 16 years will be rigorous imprisonment for at least 20 years which can extend to life.
The punishment for gang-rape of a girl below 16 years will be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.
The punishment for rape of a woman aged under 12 years will be rigorous imprisonment of at least 20 years but may extend to imprisonment for life or death. Gang-rape of a girl under 12 years of age will lead to punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.
The minimum punishment in case of rape of woman has been increased from seven years to 10 years, extendable to imprisonment for life. Under the new legislation, there will a two-month time limit for completion of investigation of rape cases. (IANS)