If the government’s Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill is approved by Parliament, any official of the police, armed forces, jails or hospitals found guilty of committing sexual assault while on official duty will have to spend the rest of his “natural life” in prison.
Unlike other convicts, the guilty cannot apply for pardon from the President or governor.
“Sexual assaults by those duty-bound to protect people will be treated as grave offence... there has to be higher punishment for them,” said a government official.
This bill will replace the anti-rape ordinance issued on February 3, following nationwide protests over the December 16 Delhi bus gang rape.
The government has, however, stopped short of punishing such rapists with death penalty, which can now be invoked in cases where a rape victim is left in a permanent vegetative state due to injuries and also in cases where a person who has once been wanted for sexual assault, is found guilty of repeating the offence.
“They (rapists in uniform) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s life and shall also pay a fine to be fixed by the court,” states the new provision of the bill.
Except for a few changes to remove confusion about some clauses, the government has retained all major provisions of the ordinance in its bill to be brought before Parliament soon.