Jammu, Apr 24: The state cabinet that met in Jammu on Tuesday under the chairpersonship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti approved the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 and the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Ordinance, 2018.
As per the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, committing rape on women under 16 years of age has been made punishable with rigorous imprisonment for 20 years and may extend to life sentence, which shall mean remainder of that person’s natural life, committing rape on women under 12 years of age has been made punishable with death sentence.
Gang-rape of women under 16 years of age has been made punishable with imprisonment for life, which shall mean remainder of that person’s natural life, gang-rape of women under 12 years of age has been made punishable with death sentence.
According to the ordinance, investigation in such cases is to be completed within a period of two months whereas trial is to be completed within six months and reasons for any delay be communicated to the High Court.
Stringent provisions for bail have been incorporated in the Ordinance. It has been provided that no bail shall be granted without hearing Public Prosecutor.
The Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Ordinance, 2018, will provide alternative punishment for an act or omission constituting an offence under the ordinance and also under various provisions of the state Penal Code relating to sexual assault. The offender found guilty of such offence shall be liable to punishment only under such law or the Ordinance as provides for punishment which is greater in degree.
The Ordinance provides provisions relating to child-friendly procedures and reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences. The Ordinance also provides for provisions relating to establishment of special courts for speedy trial of such offences. The ordinance makes it mandatory for the educational institutions to ensure safety and protection of children and not to expose them to any kind of sexual abuse.
Cabinet observed that both the Ordinances will prove useful and will act as a deterrent with regard to violence against women in general and sexual violence in particular in the state.
The latest development comes days after the Union cabinet cleared the Ordinance for death penalty for those convicted of raping children below 12 years of age. President Ram Nath Kovind subsequently promulgated the criminal law amendment ordinance, paving the way for the stringent punishment.
BJP ministers including Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh attended the cabinet meeting.
An eight-year-old from Bakherwal community in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district was sedated, held captive, gangraped and then murdered in January this year, sparking outrage across the state with the government handing over the case to the Crime Branch following protests from the community.
The case took a communal turn in Kathua, where an outfit called Hindu Ekta Manch was set up by politicians in support of the accused. Among those who backed the Manch were Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, two BJP ministers in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Cabinet, who resigned subsequently.