New Delhi, April 20: In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the Centre submitted in the Supreme Court on Friday that the process to amend Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to ensure death penalty in cases of rape of children. The PIL was filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, seeking death penalty in rape and murder of children (0-12 years).

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Deepak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar has set April 27 as the next date for further hearing.

In the wake of the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had also said that her ministry intended to amend the law to ensure death penalty for rapists of children. She had said that she was “deeply disturbed” by the spate of rapes and that her Ministry would propose an amendment in the POCSO Act. Currently, there is no provision for capital punishment in the POCSO Act. The maximum sentence is of life imprisonment for penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault. MP Hema Malini has also said that “animals who don’t spare babies and toddlers need to be hanged”.