No consensus on death penalty for rape, but parties want juvenile age bar at 16
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Central and state governments today failed to evolve a consensus on death penalty for rape convicts even as they seem to have agreed on the definition of juvenile by bringing down the age bar to 16 from 18 years.
The day-long meeting of Chief Secretaries and DGPs, convened by the Centre in the wake of the gang rape of a girl in Delhi, discussed threadbare various ways to check crime against women and agreed to take steps for protection of women and initiating speedy trial and conviction of criminals.
"There is no consensus on amending the law to include capital punishment for rape. One or two chief secretaries have suggested but majority kept mum on the issue," said a senior officer who attended the meeting.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said all suggestions, including death penalty for rape, put forward by the Chief Secretaries and DGPs would be considered by the central government.
The representatives of state governments and top Home Ministry officials said rape convicts should be sentenced to life till death without any leniency or without parole.
Government had in December 4, 2012, introduced a bill in Parliament seeking to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, by replacing the word 'rape' by the words 'sexual assault' to make the offence of sexual assault gender-neutral and also widening its scope. It proposes to enhance the punishment from the present seven years jail to life.
There was a general consensus on the definition of juvenile by bringing the age bar to 16 from 18 years in the conference.
One of the six accused in the Delhi gang rape case was juvenile and many people fear that he may escape punishment for the crime because of his juvenile status.