The Hush Post: In a first, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a Bill prescribing death to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 and under. The Bill will now be sent to the President for his assent after which it will become a law, state Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said. The Bill proposes death penalty or a minimum term of 14-year rigorous imprisonment or life imprisonment till death for raping girls aged 12 or less. The minimum punishment increases to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for gang rape of girls aged 12 or less. The Bill also proposes punishment for disrobing, stalking or sex on the pretext of marriage. The jail term increases for second or subsequent offences.
Repeated stalking would be a non-bailable offence and offenders would be punished. The bill proposes terms ranging between three and seven years for harassment (first offence). For second and subsequent offences, the minimum jail term will be seven to 10 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
Another proposed amendment says bail will not be granted to those accused of crimes punishable with seven or more years before hearing the public prosecutor. Assault with intention to disrobe or use of force will be punishable with three or more years for first offence. The term will increase to minimum seven years for second and subsequent offences but the maximum term will be 10 years. Living in or having sex on the pretext of marriage will be punishable with a term up to three years or a fine.
Introduced in the House by Law and Legislative Affairs Minister Rampal Singh, the Bill was discussed in detail and then passed by all parties, including the ruling BJP and opposition Congress. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said those who rape minor girls were not humans but devils and they didn’t have the right to live.
With the passage of the Bill, Madhya Pradesh becomes the first state in the country where those convicted of such rapes will face the gallows. The Madhya Pradesh government had mooted the bill after a 19-year-old woman was allegedly abducted and raped by four men near railway tracks in the vicinity of Bhopal’s Habibganj train station on October 31 when she was returning home after attending her coaching classes. The latest NCRB report revealed that Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of rape cases in the country.