As an effective deterrent against rape, especially of minors, Central Government moved fast by approval of an ordinance by the Union Cabinet on April 21, immediately after the Prime Minister returned from London. President Ram Nath Kovind, next day, gave his approval to the ordinance, paving the way for providing stringent punishment, including death penalty, for those convicted of committing rape on girls below the age of 12 years.
In this connection, the Gazette notification said, “Since Parliament is not in session and the President is satisfied that the circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action and now, in exercise of powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 123 of the constitution , the President is pleased to promulgate the ordinance”. Now, with this provision of effective deterrence against the reprehensible scourge of rape, a sense of security among women, particularly the young girls in the country, was cogently going to take place.
The most important aspect of the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance is the provision of fast track courts to be set up to deal with such cases so that justice is dispensed with in record fastest period of time. The time limit for investigation of all such has been prescribed and which has to be mandatorily completed within two months. However, a six – month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
To help move things fast in matters of investigation etc, special forensic kits for rape cases will be given to all police stations and the hospitals in the long term as per the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2018. It stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 years. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls below 12 years. Gang rape of a girl below 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death to the rape offenders.
It may be recalled that promulgating of an ordinance was necessitated following outcry over recent cases of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua and Surat and the rape of a girl in Unanao.
The other important aspects leading to tightening the noose of the law against rape accused and offenders are that the National Crime Records Bureau will be maintaining a record, a national database and profile of sexual offenders. This data will be regularly shared with the States and the Union Territories for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents of sex offenders by the Police. One Stop Centers (OSCs) for assistance to victims will also be extended to all districts in the country.
Jammu and Kashmir too, is going to have similar laws as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti welcomed the decision of the Union Cabinet. The stringent punishment, according to the CM would go a long way in curbing the harassment against women and girl children. In other words, the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) was going to be suitably amended to be brought at par with the provisions of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2018.