New Delhi: In a significant development, the Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it would soon amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 to provide for death penalty to the abuser in cases of aggravated sexual assault or rape against children.
Attorney General KK Venugopal made this submission before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Kanwilkar and DY Chandrachud during the course of hearing on a writ petition filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava.
The advocate had sought a direction for expeditious disposal of rape and sexual assault cases and for imposing of death penalty on the offenders.
During the last hearing, the court had asked the AG to consider whether the Parliament would amend the law to provide for death penalty to child rapists.
On Friday, the AG informed the court that the issues raised in the writ petition seeking maximum punishment of death penalty for commission of offences of rape of children up to 12 years of age group is under the active consideration of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The AG said the Ministry is sensitive to the plight of young children brutally abused in the most horrific manner. The Ministry is proposing to amend the POCSO Act for introducing death penalty for such heinous offences.
The counsel brought to the notice of the court that over one-lakh cases were registered under POCSO and only 11,000 cases had been disposed off. He also pleaded for death penalty to those who sexually assault children in the wake of the shocking rape of an eight-month-old infant by a youth in Delhi.
In his petition, Srivastava has sought the urgent framing of guidelines on the investigation and trial of cases of rape of children between 0-12 years of age, to ensure they are completed within six months from the date of filing of FIR. He said as of now, POCSO Act only provides maximum punishment of life imprisonment. He wanted capital punishments for child rapists.
The petitioner referred to an earlier judgment which said that there is need to take steps for stopping this kind of child abuse and hence, possibly there is a need for defining the term “child” in the context of rape and thereafter provide for more severe punishment in respect of the culprits who are involved in this type of crime.
The court had then asked the Parliament to respond to the agony of the collective, for it really deserved consideration for imposition of higher punishment. It was in this context the petitioner prayed for death penalty for child rapists.
The Bench posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks....