Madhya Pradesh assembly passes bill on death for rapists of girls 12 and below
Madhya Pradesh becomes the first state in the country where those convicted of such rapes will face the gallows.
The Madhya Pradesh state assembly on Monday unanimously passed a bill aimed at amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to impose the death penalty on those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 and below.
The bill, tabled by the state government in accordance with announcements made by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, recommends life term as the minimum punishment for people convicted of raping girls in this age group.
Under life imprisonment, the convict is expected to spend his entire life in jail.
The legislation also prescribes severe punishment for other sexual offences, including stalking and molestation. According to the bill, a person found guilty of stalking a girl (irrespective of her age) is to be punished with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine. A subsequent crime of this nature will entail imprisonment of anywhere from three to seven years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. Those found guilty of having sexual intercourse with a woman under fraudulent promises of marriage will face imprisonment of up to three years.
“Madhya Pradesh has created history by becoming the first state to take such a step. It will trigger a debate on women’s safety across the country,” the chief minister said.
The bill will be sent to the state governor, who will then forward it to the President for his assent.
Chouhan claimed that rapists were worse than animals, and can only be termed as ‘Narpishach’ (demons from hell). “The Internet is being misused to dish out vulgarity to children. (Drug and alcohol) Addiction is another major factor that contributes to this problem. We have to check this simultaneously,” he said, adding that relatives and acquaintances are responsible for as much as 98% of all rapes.
“Protecting our sisters is our duty. We can further explore ways to amend the IPC, so as to award severe punishment to those guilty of raping girls over 12 years of age,” Chouhan said.
Though Opposition MLAs – including Govind Singh, Ramnivas Rawat and Sunderlal Tiwari – also gave their nod to the bill, they said steps should be taken to ensure that the provision of harsher punishment was not misused to target innocent people.
Singh said that fear of the death penalty could also spur rapists to kill their victims in an attempt to destroy evidence. Rawat, for his part, demanded stringent measures to check the illegal sale of alcohol in villages.
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