The second largest state in India has passed a new bill that will allow courts to decree death penalties for the perpetrator(s) found guilty of raping minor girls aged 12 or younger.
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The bill called "Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017 " that loosely translates to the 'punishment method' was unanimously passed in the Madhya Pradesh assembly and will now be sent to the Federal government and the President for a final approval.
"It was a historic day for Madhya Pradesh as the State Assembly, as per the wish of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, passed a Bill making a provision to award the capital punishment to those indulging in such crimes (raping girls aged 12 or younger)," State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said in a statement, according to the national Indian newspaper, the Hindu.
The proposed bill states the perpetrator will get a minimum 12 years of rigorous imprisonment, with maximum punishment being death. The bill even makes repeated stalking a non-bailable offense, with offenders facing strict punishment.
The news comes at a time when earlier in October, a 19-year-old girl was brutally raped in Madhya Pradesh's capital, Bhopal, near a busy railway station in the city. Three people have been identified and the state's chief minister has requested the state to fast-track the case.
"People who rape 12-year-old girls are not human; they are demons. They do not have the right to live," Madhya Pradesh's chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, said in a statement.
"There are people in society who can be set right only by severe punishments. It [the legislation] will deal with them. We will also raise awareness in society against such crimes," the chief minister added.
December 16 would mark the anniversary of the infamous Jyoti Singh rape case in 2012, that garnered international headlines. Singh was brutally gang-raped at the outskirts of the national capital in a moving bus after she was returning from watching a movie with her boyfriend.