Hearing a plea filed by the Supreme Court Women Lawyers’ Association (SCWLA), the Supreme Court has asked Parliament to consider more stringent punishment for people who are convicted of raping a child.
Though the petition demanded castration as a punishment, the Supreme Court, however, asked Centre to consider harsher laws which can act as a deterrent against such heinous crimes.
A decision in this regard has to be now taken by the Central government and whether it can be turned into law will be decided by the Parliament.
Castration is the method, surgical or chemical, by which male testicles are removed. It prevents men from reproducing.
In 2015, a Madras High Court bench comprising of Justice N Kirubakaran asked Centre to consider castrating those who abuse and rape children as the present law was ineffective.
“The present law is ineffective in dealing with such criminals and judiciary could not keep its hands folded and be a mute spectator, especially when the recent happenings of gangrape of children across India are reported,” noted Kirubakaran.
The Judge further observed:
“The suggestion to castrate may look barbaric. But barbaric criminals needed barbaric punishment. The very thought of punishment should deter the criminal from committing the offence. Under the banner of human rights violations, some activists who first sympathise with the victims later support the criminal also. They are placing misplaced sympathy.”
In 2011, Delhi session Court Judge Kanimi Lau asked for a nationwide debate on chemical castration as a punishment for rape.
But, it was rejected by Justice Verma committee in 2013, stating it was unconstitutional and violation of humans rights.
Quoting observations made by the judge, the SCWLA’s petition said, “Only castration can be an effective deterrent. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act brought in specially to combat such offences in 2012 has failed to prevent sexual assault on minors as the punishments provided therein are nothing different than general punishment provided in the Indian Penal Code.”
Further, the Supreme Court also asked Centre to reconsider the definition of a ‘child’ in Indian Penal Code (IPC). According to the present definition, a child is any person below the age of 18.