New Delhi:The Central government is planning to amend the law to ensure the death penalty for those convicted of raping children aged below 12, Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said on Friday.
“I and the Ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act…,” Gandhi said in a video message.
This comes after the nationwide outrage over the rape of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir.
Gandhi said she was “deeply disturbed” by the Kathua rape case and all other rape cases involving children.
A Ministry official said: “We (the WCD Ministry) are working on an amendment and once finalised we will send it to the Law ministry. This is going to happen soon.”
The official added that since Parliament is not in session, the government may bring an ordinance to implement the changes, considering the urgency of the situation.
States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have approved a bill for death penalty to those who rape girls below the age of 12.
The POCSO Act came into force in 2012 and deals with sexual offences against those below 18 years of age.
However, according to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the Act is not applicable in Jammu and Kashmir and the WCD ministry has not spoken on whether the new law will also cover the state.
In the Kathua case, eight people have been charged with the abduction, rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl from the Bakerwal community in Rasana village in January.
Investigations have revealed that the girl was held in a temple, drugged, repeatedly raped and finally murdered to scare the nomadic Muslim community out of the village.