New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre if it had done any research or scientific assessment before coming out with an ordinance to award death penalty for rape of girls below the age of 12. “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,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the government.
The high court was dealing with an old PIL that challenged the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013, in which a penal provision — minimum of seven years of jail term — for a rape convict was included and the court’s discretion to award less than that was taken away.
Amid national outrage over Kathua and Unnao rape cases, the Union Cabinet, two days ago, cleared the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2018, which proposes stringent punishments, ranging from a minimum of 20 years to life term or death, for rape of girls under the age of 12 years.
The high court said the government was “not even looking at the root cause” or “educating people” as the offenders are often found to be below the age of 18 years and in majority of the cases, the perpetrator is someone from the family or known to them. It further questioned whether any victims were asked what they want before coming out with the ordinance.
The ordinance to amend POCSO act for allowing death penalty to rapists of girls under the age of 12 has been promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind.