Delhi High Court on Friday rapped the Centre for sitting on a nine-year-old Law Commission report recommending stringent punishment to offenders who sexually assault minors.
Justice S. Muralidhar said it was a matter of grave concern that despite a Law Commission report lying with the government for over nine years and in 2004, the Supreme Court hoping for appropriate changes in the law, nothing was done to introduce a deterrent punishment for those sexually abusing children.
“Unfortunately the criminal law of our country does not recognise this form of sexual assault as a heinous crime”, the court said.
The court was hearing a case where a 54-year-old father of four children sexually assaulted a five-year-old girl related to him. But Tara Dutt could only be charged under Section 354 IPC (outraging modesty) with a provision for maximum two years’ imprisonment.
Police had initially charged him for rape and the prosecution wanted him to be tried for indulging in unnatural sex. But with none of the offences made out in the facts of the case, “the trial court, handicapped by inadequacies of the law” could only try him under Section 354 IPC and send him to jail just for two years.
The judge criticised the Centre while dismissing an appeal filed by the convict. Noting that instances of such sexual abuse was on the rise, the court said: “The absence of a stringent law to deal with it can only have the pernicious effect of the crime continuing undeterred with impunity.
“The offence of child sexual abuse is a grave one. Such incidents leave a deep scar on the psyche of the child and has the potential of adversely affecting the child's emotional and mental development,” the judge added.