Delhi High Court Can Death Penalty prevent future Rape Crimes
The Central Government was asked whether it had conducted any research or Scientific Assessment prior to announcing and enacting an ordinance of awarding of Death Penalties to the accused in crimes of Rape of girls under 12 years by the Delhi High Court on Monday.
This question was asked by the court in relation to an old PIL (Public Interest Litigation) which was filed to challenge the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 which adopted the Penal Provision of awarding of a minimum of seven years of jail term to a convict of rape and it had also repelled court’s discretion to award any penalties less than that.
“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 Union government.
It is believed that popular pressure was behind the Union government deciding to include the stringent of penalties for convicts of incidents of rape of girls below 12 years – from 20 years to life term or death, in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 that was passed by the Union Cabinet two days ago.
Enhancement of minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years and a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for convicts of rape where the victim is between 12 and 16 years have also been included in the new ordinance.
The high court further alleged that the government was “not even looking at the root cause” or “educating people” because the court observed that minors – below 18 years of age, were among the main offenders often, and in most of the cases a family member of the victim or someone known to them are found to the offenders.
Additionally, before coming out with the ordinance, had the government asked any of the victims what they want, the court further asked.
The court made these observations when, during the hearing of the PIL, it was informed about the recent ordinance. The PIL was filed seeking to repel some of the changes that were made in the Rape law following the Nirbhaya rape case that shook the country on December 16, 2012.
The PIL, filed by academician Madhu Purnima Kishwar, claimed that some people were abusing the amendments to the law created for sexual offenses.
Under the new ordinance, minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from the rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
The passing of the ordinance means that changes to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act will now have to be made and President Ram Nath Kovind has already approved the ordinance as well as the changes.