New Delhi: In the wake of increasing child rape incidents, the Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it would soon amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012. In a significant development, the Act will provide for death penalty to the accused 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. The submission came during the course of hearing a writ petition filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava.
Advocate Srivastava was seeking a direction for expeditious disposal of rape and sexual assault cases as well as imposing death penalty on the offenders.
During the last hearing, the court had asked AG Venugopal to consider whether 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, is under active consideration of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The AG stated the Ministry is sensitive to the plight of young children brutally abused in the most horrific manner.
The counsel also brought to the court’s notice that over one-lakh cases were registered under POCSO and only 11,000 cases had been disposed of.
In his petition, Srivastava sought the urgent framing of guidelines on the investigation and trial of cases of rapes of minors, between 0-12 years, to ensure they are completed within six months from the date of filing an FIR.
He said the POCSO Act, as of now, only provides maximum punishment of life imprisonment. He has pleaded for capital punishments for child rapists.
The petitioner referred to an earlier judgment which stated that there is a need to take steps for stopping this kind of child abuse. He also stressed on the need for defining the term “child” in the context of rape and thereafter provide for more severe punishment.
The court has also asked the Parliament to respond to the agony of the collective, for it really deserves consideration for an imposition of higher punishment. It was in this context the petitioner prayed for death penalty for child rapists. The Bench has posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks.