Did Centre carry out research to check if death penalty deters rape, asks Delhi High Court
The bench asked the government whether it had sought the opinion of any rape survivors before passing the ordinance.
The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre if it had carried out any research before framing and passing the ordinance allowing death penalty for rapists of girls below 12 years of age, PTI reported.
“Did you carry out any study, any scientific assessment that death penalty is a deterrent to rape?” the bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked. “Have you thought of the consequences to the victim? How many offenders will allow their victims to survive now that rape and murder have the same punishment?”
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday signed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2018, which the Union Cabinet had approved on Saturday. The ordinance amends relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Besides allowing the death penalty for rapists of girls below 12, it provides for fast-track courts to be set up to deal with child rape cases and special forensic kits for such cases to be given to police stations and hospitals in the long term, among other provisions.
The government decided to pass the ordinance in the backdrop of outrage against the alleged rape, and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district in January.
On Monday, the Delhi High Court observed that the government was not “looking at the root cause” or “educating people” as the rapists in several such cases are juveniles or someone known to the girls. The court also questioned whether the Centre had asked any rape survivor about their opinion on the matter before framing the ordinance.
The judges made these observations while hearing a petition filed in 2013 challenging a provision in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013, which stipulates a seven-year jail term as the minimum punishment for a rapist. The amendment was passed after the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman on December 16, 2012, in Delhi.