The High Court of Delhi today (23 April) asked the Centre if any scientific research or assessment had been done prior to passing an ordinance to award the death penalty to those convicted of rape where the victim was a girl aged less than 12, reports PTI. The court was looking at a public interest litigation (PIL) that challenged the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 where the penal provision of a minimum seven years behind bars was included and the discretion given to courts to award a sentence lighter than that was taken away.
Did you carry out any study, any scientific assessment that death penalty is a deterrent to rape? Have you thought of the consequences to the victim? How many offenders would allow their victims to survive now that rape and murder have the same punishment?Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar
The Centre recently cleared the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance of 2018 that imposes a stringent set of punishments in rape cases that range from a minimum of 20 years in jail to a death penalty.
If the victim is below the age of 12, the new law prescribes capital punishment as the penal action and if the victim is aged between 12 and 16 it prescribes a minimum jail term of 20 years in lieu of the existing ten year jail term with a maximum jail term of life imprisonment.
The HC also said that the government was “not even looking at the root cause” or educating people, adding that the offenders were often aged less than 18 and were in many cases known to the victim. It also asked the government if it had asked the victims prior to promulgating the ordinance.
The court responded to the ordinance that struck down the amendments made in the 2013 law. The plea, made by Madhu Kishwar claimed that the amendments in the law were abused in practice.
President Ram Nath Kovind approved the ordinance that would bring about amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the Evidence Act.
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