The Haryana government on Tuesday approved a proposal to enact a law providing for capital punishment to those found guilty of sexually abusing girls aged 12 years or below, PTI reported. The Cabinet also decided to make the existing laws related to sexual offences more stringent.

This will entail amending provisions under Section 376 that relate to rape, Section 354 (assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty), and 354D (2) (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code.

According to the proposal, the state government will introduce Section 376AA mandating that by which a person convicted of raping a girl aged 12 or below is either be given the death penalty or sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for at least 14 years, which could be extended for life.

Moreover, Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code – which applies to gang rape of a girl below 12 years – should be amended to give the death penalty or a jail term of not less than 20 years to each of them. The jail term could be extended to a life sentence.

The convicts will also be liable to pay a fine. “Such a fine shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim,” the state Cabinet said. “Any fine imposed under this section will be paid to the victim.”

According to the proposal, a person convicted under Section 354 will be jailed for at least two years. The jail term could be extended up to seven years. Till now, people convicted under this section were jailed for not less than one year.

Stalkers will be jailed for up to three years after the first conviction. If they are convicted the second time, they will be imprisoned for not less than three years and the jail term could be extended up to seven years.

The Cabinet meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. In January, the Haryana government was severely criticised after five incidents of sexual assault were reported in the state in five days.

In December 2017, the Madhya Pradesh government unanimously passed a bill providing for the death penalty to rapists who assault minors aged 12 or below.