NEW DELHI - Indian government told the Supreme Court on Friday that the process to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has been launched, and the special legislation would include the death penalty as a punishment for raping children under 12.
This assurance provided by additional solicitor general PS Narasimha to a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra comes at a time of countrywide outrage over the brutal rape-cum-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua earlier this year.
Narasimha also placed before the court a letter from the deputy secretary of the Union ministry of women and child development, which stated that an amendment to the law was under active consideration. “The ministry proposes to amend the POCSO Act-2012 to introduce the death penalty for abusers in cases of aggravated sexual assault against children,” it read.
The court then adjourned the case to April 27.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava last month. The petition, which sought the death penalty for those found guilty of sexually assaulting children under 12, drew the court’s attention to the alleged rape of an eight-month-old girl by her cousin at northwest Delhi in January.
The petition sought Rs 10 lakh in compensation for the victim, besides framing of guidelines that would ensure the completion of investigation and trial of POCSO cases within six months of the FIR’s registration.
Last week, soon after details of the Kathua incident emerged, Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi had instructed officials to work on a proposal aimed at amending the POCSO Act.