With the outrage across the country over the rapes in Kathua and Unnao, the Centre in a letter submitted to the Supreme Court on Friday (20th April 2018) said that it has begun the process to ensure those convicted of child rape get the death penalty under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), 2012where the victim is under 12 years of age.
The Act was framed to protect children from offences of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and pornography. The letter was issued in consequence of a writ petition filed in the case of Alakh Alok Srivastava v. Union of India.
The letter was issued amid rising tensions over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district and the alleged rape of a minor in Unnao by a BJP MLA.
Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister of Women and Child Development, said that "Am deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua, and all the recent rape cases. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for the death penalty for the rape of children below 12 years of age," and have asked the department to work on a proposal to amend the POCSO law.
The next hearing is scheduled for 27 April.
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