New Delhi: The Central government on Friday told the Supreme Court that it is proposing the death penalty for those convicted of raping children below the age of 12.
The proposal has come in the backdrop of nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and sexual assault of a teenager in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Misra was told by the Ministry of Women and Child Development that it is "proposing" to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for introducing "death penalty" to the convicts of child rape.
The letter written to Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P.S. Narasimha by Women and Child Development Ministry Deputy Secretary Anand Prakash, said the government is "sensitive to the plight of young children" brutally abused in the most horrific manner
"The issue raised in the petition regarding the amendment of the provisions of the POCSO Act, 2012, so as to proving maximum punishment of 'death penalty' for commission of offences of rape of children of 0-12 years of age group is under active consideration of the Ministry.
"The Ministry is sensitive to the plight of young children brutally abused in the most horrific manner. The Ministry is proposing to amend POCSO Act, 2012, for introducing 'death penalty' for the abuser in the cases of aggravated sexual assault against children," the Ministry said in a letter to the apex court.
The court posted the matter for hearing on April 27.
POCSO Act was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
The Centre, on February 1, 2018, told the court death penalty was not the answer for every child sex abuse case and that graded penalties for graded offences have been provided under the POCSO Act, 2012.
On Friday the Centre's response came on a PIL filed by an advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava demanding death penalty for those raping children.
The advocate has referred to recent law passed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan providing death penalty to the convicts if the rape victim is up to the age of 12 years.