The Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the parliament on Monday passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The law seeks to bring changes to the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedures. The new amendments will ensure stringent punishment for those convicted of rape.
Minister of State (MoS) for home affairs, Kiren Rijuju said, "Both houses of the Parliament have passed Criminal Law Amendment Bill and now we will ensure that this act takes effect in the manner in which it has been envisaged. There are various other steps taken to ensure speedy trial.”
The new amendment tries to put in place a number of measures for speedy investigation and trial of rape cases. It has also provided for a six-month time limit for disposal of appeals in rape cases.
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According to the bill, special fast-track courts would be set up to deal exclusively with rape cases. Apart from this, only a woman judge will hear the rape case and a woman police officer will record the statement of rape victims.
The bill seeks to replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on April 21, following the gruesome Kathua rape and murder case where an eight-year-old nomadic girl was sedated and raped multiple times earlier this year.
The bill seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 to provide that the minimum punishment for rape of a woman under 16 years will be rigorous imprisonment for at least 20 years which can extend to life.
Key Highlights & Changes
Changes In The Indian Penal Code
- Section 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code is to be amended to increase the minimum punishment for rape of a woman from 7 years imprisonment to 10 years of imprisonment.
- A new sub-section, Sub-section(3) to be inserted in Section 376 to make rape of girl below the age of 16 years punishable with minimum 20 years of imprisonment. The punishment may extend up to life imprisonment.
- Section 376AB to be inserted in the IPC to make rape of child aged below the age of 12 years punishable with death
- Section 376DB sought to be inserted to provide for death penalty for gang rape of girl below the age of 12 years
- Section 228A IPC sought to be amended to include offences under newly inserted Sec.376(3), 376DA, and 376DB under the bar of disclosure of victim’s identity.
- Section 166A to be amended to provide for the punishment of public servant failing to register a complaint in cases under newly inserted sections.
Changes in Code of Criminal Procedures (CrPC)
- Swifter Investigation - Investigation of cases to be completed within two months, as per sub-section (1A) sought to be inserted in Section 173, CrPC
- No Anticipatory Bail - Section 438 CrPC sought to be amended to state that no anticipatory bail can be granted to persons accused under newly inserted offences.
- Restrictions on Regular Bail: Regular bail applications under Section 439 for persons accused under newly inserted offences can be heard only after fifteen days notice to the public prosecutor.
- Non Bailable Offences - The First Schedule of Cr.P.C is sought to be amended to clarify that the new offences are non-bailable and cognizable, to be tried by Court of Law.
- Change In POSCO Act - Section 42 of the POCSO Act is sought to be amended to clarify that greater amongst the punishments under IPC and POCSO will be applicable for the acts.