The state of Madhya Pradesh becomes first such state to award death penalty to persons guilty of raping girls 12 years and below. The said bill was passed on Monday earlier this week, it will now be sent to the President for his assent before it gets enacted finally.
This comes in the wake of the current scenario of the child rape menace. In the words of Chief Minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan this bill indeed has created history.
Named as “Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017”, it amended sections, 376 (a)(a) of IPC recommending death sentence or a minimum 14 years to life imprisonment for raping a girl aged 12 or less. In cases of gang-rape of minor under Section 376 (b)(a), the government recommended death penalty or minimum 20 years to life in jail.
The bill was introduced by Legislative Affairs Minister Rampal Singh and was passed by both BJP and Congress, despite Congress showing apprehensions about it, relating the same to misuse of law etc.
The poor track record of the state
No doubt the Chief Minister has been very active in getting this bill passed and has been very outspoken about it too. He wants to leave no stone unturned to get the bill the President’s assent.
Is it because the Chief Minister is trying to save Madhya Pradesh from getting the tag of ‘rape capital’ owing to the increasing numbers of rape cases in the state?
Well many will agree so.
The numbers are indeed horrifying.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2015 showed that Madhya Pradesh reported highest number of rape cases (4,391) in the country.
In fact recently the Madhya Pradesh government was heavily criticised for not being able to get things in order.
The move comes as a late response but appreciable too considering the fact that Madhya Pradesh is the only and the first state to make such stringent changes.
However, no basis to the distinction of rape committed against a minor below and above the age of 12 has been made.
The need for the law?
When we talk of India’s incompetence to curb the ever-rising peril of rapes and child sexual abuse the first thing that comes to our mind is probably the execution of the law. So making a law is good but executing is of much more importance.
Now coming to the law, where does the law lack?
Just last year the SC asked the Parliament to enact a separate law regarding child rapes.
“The pain and distress caused to a child who knows nothing about sex and rape is nothing but brutal perversion. When a society moves this way, it has to be stopped,” Justice Misra said.
“Victims are as young as three year to four years of age… there was one instance of a 28-day-old infant…” Justice Misra breaks this down as extremely atrocious and cruel.
The court pointed out how Section 376 (2) (f) of the Indian Penal Code only talks of rape of a “woman below 12 years of age”. It said the Code has no specific provision dealing with punishment for raping girl children below 10 years of age and infants after classifying them as a separate category.
Therefore the judiciary has made their intention on giving harsher punishments to juvenile offenders very clear.
Child rapes have to be treated more harshly than ever and the legislation has to do much more in ways of special enactments because Prevention Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012 has not been able to do much.
Why? Probably because strict punishments are lacking. But again, will strict punishments ensure to curb the problem of child rape? And should we only think about how justice should be served by only dealing with the perpetrator of the crime?
What about the victim? Of course justice is justice but if it doesn’t help the victim and other future victims who could be, then there is no use to kill the rapist with 2 seconds of pain.
A greater role and responsibility still lies with the police. Also, sadly there are no such provisions that can provide psychological rehabilitation of rape victims especially minors.
If we want rape to be a heavy deterrence then we better act now, and act appropriate.
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