The Union Cabinet has cleared a law which prescribes capital punishment to those convicted of raping children below the age of 12.
The move to seek death penalty in rape cases in which children are the victims comes in the wake of a nation-wide outrage post the Kathua and Unnao rape cases. On Friday three more such instances were reported from Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Odisha.
The Cabinet has decided to take up this matter on an urgent basis since the Parliament is not in session. There is an urgency involved and hence the Cabinet is meeting on Saturday to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, officials said.
The ordinance approved by the Cabinet also prescribes the minimum punishment in case of rape of women to increase from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means imprisonment till that person's natural life.
For speedy trial of rape cases, new fast track courts will be set up in consultation with States/UTs and High Courts.
The ordinance also prescribes that there will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.