Parliament passes Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018

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Parliament has passed Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018 prescribing death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below age of 12 years and making law against such sexual offences more stringent. The Bill replaces the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 2018.

Key Provisions of the Bill

The Bill amends Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Indian Evidence Act. It provides for stringent punishment of jail term of minimum 20 years or life imprisonment or death for rape of girl less than 12 years.

It provides punishment with imprisonment for rest of life or death sentence in case of gang rape of girl below 12 years. It increases minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years for crime of rape of girl under 16 years, which can be extended to imprisonment for rest of life. It also increases minimum punishment for rape of women from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment.

It provides for speedy investigation and trial of cases involving above offences, which must be completed in two months. It proposes 6 months’ time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases. It provides dedicated manpower for investigation of rape cases in time bound manner.

It provides no provision for anticipatory bail for person accused of rape or gang rape of girl under 16 years. It has also been provided that court has to give notice of 15 days to Public Prosecutor and representative of victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

It has provision for maintaining national database and profile of sexual offenders by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). This data will be regularly shared with States/UTs for monitoring, tracking and investigation including verification of antecedents by police.

Note: Four states already have brought in law after passing it through their respective assemblies for capital punishment to those who rape girls below 12 years. The states are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh

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