Chandigarh: The Haryana Assembly today unanimously passed a bill which provides for death penalty to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less.
After Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Haryana has become the third state where the assembly has approved the provision of capital punishment for such sexual offenders, the house was informed.
The Criminal Law (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018, moved by the state's Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma, was passed on the last day of the budget session.
The bill was passed unanimously with INLD and Congress members also lending their support.
A few Congress members put forth some suggestions, with senior leader Kiran Choudhary suggesting death penalty and harsher provisions for all rapists irrespective of the age of victims.
"After Section 376-A of the Penal Code, the following Section shall be inserted, namely 376-AA," the bill stated.
Under section 376-AA, in case of rape of a girl up to 12 years of age, there will be a punishment of death or rigorous imprisonment of not less than 14 years which may extend to imprisonment for life that is for remainder period of persons natural life, according to the legislation.
A provision 376-DA has also been added after section 376-D of the penal code.
Under section - 376-DA, if a girl up to 12 years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and will be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment for a term which will not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life along with a fine.
The bill also provides for making the existing criminal laws related to other sexual offences more stringent.
The punishment under section 354 of the IPC (Assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty) will not be less than two years (earlier not less than one year) but may extend up to seven years (earlier up to five years).
Also, under section 354D (2) of the IPC, those found guilty of stalking will be punished on first conviction with imprisonment up to three years and can be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment for not less than three years, but which may extend to seven years (earlier up to five years).
The new additions also include provisions of fining the convict and any such fine will be paid to the victim.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, during his speech in the House, expressed anguish over recent incidents of rape in the state, which he said had happened in the past as well.
He said voices were raised from various quarters that provisions of "harsher punishment for rape".
"Some members have made some suggestions, which are procedural in nature. Through this Bill, whose intention is that the tough law will act as a strong deterrence, we are taking a first step," he said.
He rejected charge levelled by some opposition members that politics was the reason for bring the tougher law.
Congress members Karan Singh Dalal and Geeta Bhukkal also gave their suggestions while Women and Child Development Minister Kavita Jain said while tough laws will be in place from time to time, there was also a need to bring about a change in the mindset among the people to help stop crimes against women.