Arunachal Pradesh approves death penalty for rape of girls under 12
Arunachal Pradesh on Friday became the fourth state in the country to pass a legislation approving the death penalty for child rape.
The Criminal Laws (Arunachal Pradesh) Amendment Bill-2018 was passed by unanimous voice vote in the state assembly by all the members present. This development follows a series of incidents where the public resorted to vigilante justice to punish alleged child rapists.
Similar legislations were earlier approved by the BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.
The bill seeks to amend sections 376AA and Sec 376D of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – which prescribes punishment for offences such as rape and gang-rape of girls below 12 years – to include the death penalty as well as other punitive actions.
The amended Section 376AA states that whoever rapes a girl under 12 years will be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment for a term that will not be less than 14 years but extend to the remainder of the person’s natural life. He will also be liable to pay a fine.
The amended Section 376D states that people found guilty of gang-raping a girl under 12 years will be awarded the death penalty or rigorous imprisonment for not less than 20 years, which can be extended to the remainder of their natural lives. They will also be liable to pay a fine.
The bill also sought to amend other provisions, including sections 354, 354(B) and 354(D) of the IPC, to award those found people guilty of “outraging the modesty of women” with harsher punishment of up to 7-10 years as compared to existing provisions, besides a monetary fine to the tune of Rs 1 lakh.
The legislation also provides for amending the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure as consequential legislation.
Last month, a mob of nearly 1,000 people dragged two people accused of raping a five-year-old girl out of a police station in Lohit district and lynched them in the local marketplace. A day later, nearly 900 people ransacked a police station at Yingkiong – the headquarters of Upper Siang district – because another rape accused of a minor had been shifted to a different district. In another incident, a group of people paraded the alleged rapist of an eight-year-old girl on the streets of Daporijo in Upper Subansiri district before handing him over to the police.