Chandigarh: In a strong move, the Haryana government gave its nod to a proposal to bring in a legislation that would have a provision awarding death penalty to those guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less.
In a meeting of the state Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, it was also decided to make the existing criminal laws related to sexual offences more stringent.
The Haryana Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Khattar, decided to amend legal provisions like section 376A (Intercourse by a man with his wife during separation), 376D (rape by one or more persons constituting a group), 354 (Assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 354 D(2) (stalking) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In case of rape or gang rape of a girl upto 12 years of age, there will be a punishment of death or rigorous imprisonment of not less than 14 years which may extend to imprisonment for life that is for remainder period of person’s natural life, the Cabinet decided, an official release said.
Another provision approved is under section 376D A of the IPC, where a girl upto 12 years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and will be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment for a term which will not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life along with a fine, the release said.
“Such a fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim. Any fine imposed under this section will be paid to the victim,” the release said.
According to the proposal that recieved the state cabinet’s nod, the punishment under section 354 of the IPC will not be less than two years (earlier not less than one year) but may extend upto seven years (earlier upto five years) and shall also liable to fine.
Under section 354D (2) of the IPC, whoever commits the offence or stalking will be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment for not less than three years, but which may extend to seven years (earlier up to five years), the statement said.
Significantly, Chief Minister Mr Khattar, who had expressed anguish and concern over recent incidents of rape, had said that provisions of “harsher punishment for rape” were required in the state.