New Delhi, Aug 6: The Parliament on Monday passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2018 that prescribes the death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years. It also makes the law against sexual offences harsher. The bill replaces the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance of April 21 that came after the public outrage over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of another woman at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Also Read - Over 1 Crore Migrant Workers Walked Back to Their Home States During March-June: Govt Tells Parliament

The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 30 and was approved by a voice vote in the Upper House today. While speaking during a debate in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh had already brought a law in their respective assemblies for capital punishment to those who rape girls under the age of 12. “We have introduced certain changes in the IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act and there are consequential effects on prevention of atrocities against children,” the minister said. Also Read - Amid Oppostion Protest, Rajya Sabha Passes 7 Key Bills in Three And Half Hours

As per the bill, rape of girls under 12 can attract even a death sentence. The minimum punishment in cases of rape of women has also been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years. According to the bill, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for the rest of life. For rape of a girl under 12, the minimum jail term would be 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence. Gangrape of a girl under 12 would invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death. Also Read - Farm Bills Row: Will Consider Revoking Suspension Only After MPs Apologise, Says Ravi Shankar Prasad

The deadline for the completion of the trial in all rape cases will be two months. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed, the bill says, adding that there will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gangrape of a girl under 16 years.

During the debate, some members argued that the provision of a death penalty could affect the reporting of cases of sexual assault as in many cases the accused happened to be relatives or known persons. Many members also suggested that the government change the term ‘woman’ in the bill appropriately and make it gender- neutral.