oppn parties Child Rape: Death Penalty is Not the Answer

News Snippets

  • The Army conducts an operational alert exercise in eastern Ladakh
  • The IAF reopened the Vijaynagar advance landing ground, an airstrip in Arunachal Pradesh near the Chinese border
  • Amit Shah says he never sought to impose Hindi
  • Government bans the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes in India
  • Mamata Banerjee seeks an appointment with Home Minister Amit Shah today
  • Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee meets PM Modi in what she later described as a government-to-government meeting
  • Supreme Court sets a deadline of October 18 for completing the hearings in the Ayodhya case
  • Pakistan rejects India's request for use of its airspace when PM Modi flies to the US later this week
  • Crude prices fall sharply as Saudi Arabia assures normal production in a few weeks. Prices fall by 5.4% to $65.30 per barrel
  • Sensex tumbles 700 points over fears that rising crude prices will deal a body blow to the tottering Indian economy
  • As Rajeev Kumar fails to appear before the CBI despite several notices, the agency forms a special team to locate and apprehend him
  • S Jaishankar says Pakistan is not a normal neighbour and its behaviour is a "set of aberrations"
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says PoK in Indian territory and the country hopes to have physical jurisdiction over it one day
  • Barasat Sessions court near Kolkata rejects Rajeev Kumar anticipatory bail application citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason
  • PM Modi celebrates his birthday with Narmada aarti and later has lunch with his mother.
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
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Child Rape: Death Penalty is Not the Answer

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Centre’s decision to promulgate an ordinance prescribing the death penalty for rapists of children below 12 years is a decision meant to appease the public and is not based on sound legal policy. It is increasingly being recognized by legal experts and scholars that certainty, and not the severity, of the punishment acts as deterrent against crimes. But the government has made the punishment for raping a child equal to that of murder. It will act as an incentive for rapists to murder the victim and eliminate the risk of getting caught and punished.

The government should have instead acted to ensure certainty of apprehension and punishment by eliminating inefficiencies in investigation, plugging loopholes in existing laws and streamlining legal processes to ensure faster delivery of justice. There is an urgent need to sensitize people involved in these cases in any way. A standard and simplified investigation procedure must be laid down and the police officers must be told to be very careful in questioning the victim as children get confused after the trauma of sexual abuse. Doctors examining the victim must be told to follow specific procedures with a fine toothcomb and double-check everything as medical reports are the best loopholes used by defense lawyers to get their clients off the hook. Judges need to be told that cases must be decided fast and the victim must never be brought face to face with the accused as children get scared when confronted with the perpetrator. There must not be excessive questioning or cross examination of the child. On the other hand, it is a fact that most rapists of children are people known to them. Hence, parents need to be educated about tell tale signs of distress a child shows in the presence of particular relatives or friends. This could be done through schools by involving activists and psychologists.

If there is no certainty of punishment, crimes are not deterred. The death penalty exists in India for “the rarest of the rare crimes”. The Nirbhaya rape case was one such crime. Four accused in that case were ordered to be hanged till death and the sentence was finally upheld by the Supreme Court on May 5, 2017. Almost one year has passed but they are yet to be hanged. Where is the certainty of punishment? In absence of that, no deterrent – however draconian - is going to work.