Harsher punishment for rapists as president approves new anti-rape laws

India News Bulletin Desk
President Pranab Mukherjee passes tougher anti-rape laws
President Pranab Mukherjee passes tougher anti-rape laws
Wikimedia Commons (World Economic Forum)

Stricter anti-rape laws to ensure harsher punishment for rapists and those involved in sexual violence against women in India have come into effect as President Pranab Mukherjee approved the ordinance on Monday, February 4, 2013.

While the ordinance ensures that the new laws are in effect, the parliament must pass the bill before April 4, 2013 to ensure that the ordinance does not lapse. If the ordinance lapses, then the new laws will not be valid any more.   

Under the new law, the rapist could be subject to death penalty if the violence against a woman leads to her death.

The president has given his assent to the ordinance on stricter anti-rape laws just two days after the Union cabinet passes it.

The landmark rule comes just under two months after the 23-year-old Delhi student ‘Nirbhaya’ was brutally gang-raped on a private bus in Delhi. The student was injured with an iron rod and suffered severe intestinal injuries that led to her death on December 29, 2012.

The shocking incident caused widespread outrage amongst Indians who called on the government to tighten anti-rape laws.

Under the old law, despite the severity of the violence, the punishment for rape was a seven to ten year sentence. Under the new laws, the minimum sentence has been doubled to 20 years.

The new anti-rape laws also state that in case of the death of a victim or if the violence against a woman leaves her in a vegetative state, the punishment will be a death penalty.

In India, death penalty or capital punishment is imposed only in the “rarest of the rare” cases.  The last time, the government imposed the death penalty was in August 2012 on Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani national involved in the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai which killed 166 people and injured nearly 300.

The harsher anti-rape law is the result of a government-approved panel’s review of laws on sex crimes.

The panel also called on the government to set up a fast track court for faster trials. The six accused in the Nirbhaya case, included a minor who will be tried in juvenile court. The other five accused pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and murder on Saturday, February 2.

While many have welcomed the new, tougher anti-rape law, some women groups are saying it is not enough to deter sexual crimes against women in India.

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