Will ask Centre to bring death penalty for rapists, says R R Patil

Two years after the Maharashtra government had sent a proposal to the Centre to make punishment for molestation of women more stringent, and at a time when the whole country is exploding in shock and anger over the gruesome gang-rape of a young woman in New Delhi, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil on Thursday said the state would recommend the Centre to amend laws to bring death penalty for heinous cases of rape.

On Thursday, the Upper House of the Maharashtra legislature saw vociferous demands, from women members in particular, for stringent laws against rape.

Maharashtra had two years ago sent a proposal to the Centre to increase jail term under section 354 of the IPC from two years (and a penalty) to non-bailable and non-compoundable imprisonment of seven years. Section 354 deals with assault or use of criminal force against a woman with an intention to outrage her modesty. The state had also proposed to the Centre to amend section 509 of the IPC to make it non-bailable, and award a three-year non-compoundable jail term instead of the present one-year imprisonment and a penalty. Section 509 deals with words, gestures or acts intended to outrage the modesty of a woman.

States like Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have also made similar recommendations to the Centre seeking changes in the IPC. A senior Maharashtra home official said they were informed earlier this year by the Union government that there was a move to amend the law at the Central level, after which plans to bring in an amendment at the state level were put on hold.

"There are no words to describe the Delhi case. When Maharashtra witnessed a gruesome rape in Ahmednagar district some years ago, we decided to alter our laws and put in place necessary safety measures. We will recommend the Centre to make necessary changes in the law, and if need be provide for death penalty in cases of gruesome rape," Patil told the Legislative Council.

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