The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which provides for stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years, was on Monday introduced in the Lok Sabha.The amendment bill, once approved by Parliament, will replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21, following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of another woman in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.Introducing the bill, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the recent incidents of rape and gangrape of women under the age of 16 years and 12 years have shaken the conscience of the entire nation.Therefore, the offences of rape and gangrape of women under the age of 16 years and 12 years required effective deterrence through legal provisions of more stringent punishment, he said.“Some of the incidents in recent years have been marked by increased brutality and violence perpetrated on minor girls. This has fuelled demands from various sections of the society to make penal provisions more stringent and effective, immediate arrest of the accused and ensure speedy trial in such cases,” he said.The bill stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 12 years. Death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.According to the bill, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts’ “natural life”.The punishment for gangrape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence. Gangrape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gangrape of a girl under 16 years.It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.