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India President Pranab Mukherjee Gives Nod To Tough Anti-rape Ordinance


Jun 1, 2004
NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday gave his assent to the ordinance sharpening laws against sexual assault, mandating harsher punishment like death penalty for offenders in cases where the victim dies or is pushed into a persistent vegetative state. The amended law comes into force immediately.

The ordinance, which also introduced voyeurism, stalking, disrobing of women and acid attacks as specific offences under the Indian Penal Code, was approved by the Union Cabinet on Friday.

Though the presidential assent has brought the "changed" provisions of the law into force, the government will have to get it passed in Parliament within six months.

With the main opposition party BJP welcoming the move, the government is confident of getting the new provisions passed in Parliament after putting it up for discussion and modification, if needed, during the budget session.

The President's assent to the ordinance came even as women's rights activists expressed unhappiness over the provisions. They were upset over the government's refusal to recognize marital rape as an offence, failure to hold command officers accountable for rapes by their subordinates and omission of rapes by armed forces as a category.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 — comprising several recommendations of the Justice (retired) JS Verma committee — was rushed through to beat the notification of the budget session which is due to begin on February 21. The notification — which is to be issued in a day or two — would have prevented issuance of the ordinance.

'Rarest of rare' rape cases

Going beyond recommendations of the Justice Verma committee, the ordinance has prescribed death penalty for cases of rape which lead to the victim's death or pushes her into coma. It seeks to treat such cases as "rarest-of-rare" for which courts can award capital punishment if they so decide.

For such cases, the ordinance prescribes a minimum sentence of 20 years which can be extended to imprisonment until the natural life of the convict, or death.

Brought against the backdrop of Nirbhaya's case, the ordinance changes various clauses in existing criminal law by amending Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Evidence Act.

The new provisions will be brought before Parliament as part of official amendments to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 which was introduced in December last year. The pending legislation is currently being examined by a parliamentary standing committee which is scheduled to meet on Monday.

Officials in the home ministry, however, did not rule out the possibility of withdrawing the pending bill and bringing a fresh legislation incorporating the changes which came into force through the ordinance.



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