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Kathua Effect: J&K Cabinet Nod to Ordinance for Death Penalty to Those Guilty of Raping Children

The state government, which issued a second ordinance to make the trial victim-friendly, has also added provisions to ensure a time-bound probe and fast track trial in cases of such crimes, a minister said.

PTI

Updated:April 24, 2018, 11:41 PM IST
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Kathua Effect: J&K Cabinet Nod to Ordinance for Death Penalty to Those Guilty of Raping Children
The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet, which met under Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, approved two ordinances to provide stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of rape of minor girls. (File)
Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday approved an ordinance providing death penalty for the rape of children below 12 while also shifting the 'burden of proof' on the accused in such cases, a development that comes in the wake of outrage over the Kathua rape and murder case.

The state government, which issued a second ordinance to make the trial victim-friendly, has also added provisions to ensure a time-bound probe and fast track trial in cases of such crimes, a minister said.

Only last week, the Centre had brought an ordinance to amend the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

In cases of rape, where the victim is a child up to the age of 12, we have provided for death penalty to those found guilty, Jammu and Kashmir Law Minister Abdul Hak Khan told reporters in Jammu on Tuesday.

The state Cabinet, which met under Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, approved two ordinances to provide stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of rape of minor girls, the minister said.

"One ordinance is the criminal law ordinance 2018, in which enhancement of punishment in rape victim cases is provided and the second is Jammu and Kashmir protection of children from sexual violence ordinance," Khan said.

We are amending the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) criminal procedure and evidence act, Khan, who flanked by State Finance Minister Syed Altaf Bukhari, said.

The second ordinance is aimed at checking offences against children up to the age of 16 and that is a special act we have brought in the shape of an ordinance today, he said.

As per the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, if the rape victim is above 12 and up to 16 years of age, the offence has been made punishable with rigorous imprisonment of 20 years and may extend to life sentence, which shall mean remainder of that person's natural life, he said.

The government had specified in the ordinance that life means "entire life" in terms of punishment, the minister said. Earlier, the interpretation of life sentence was different, from 10 years to 16 years, but now we have kept it in the law so that nobody can interpret it otherwise, he added.

The government has changed the pattern of investigation and trial of rape cases in J&K would be fast-tracked, he said.

"Only female police officers will investigate such cases and two months has been set as the time frame for completion of investigation," Khan said.

We have fixed a six month period for trial, he added. An appeal time of six months has been provided in such cases and it is to be decided within six months, he added.

In cases of fines imposed by the court, the new ordinance would direct that amount for the rehabilitation of the victims, unlike earlier when it used to go to the state exchequer, he said.

The trial will be 'in-camera' and bail provisions made tougher, he said.

He said child-friendly provisions had been brought through the second ordinance so that the victims are not harassed.

It will be must for the courts to record the victim's statement within 30 days, he said. "We have put in the ordinance that the burden of proof is on the accused. Accused has to prove that I have not committed crime," he said.

This step has been taken in view of the Kathua rape and murder case by the Mehbooba Mufti government in J&K, he said.

The body of a girl, from the Bakerwal community, was recovered from a forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

The case led to a massive outrage. The crime branch arrested 8 people including a juvenile. The trial began in the case on Monday last.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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