By Muzamil Bashir
The brutal Kathua rape murder was as a catalyst for the need of stringent laws against child offences in the J&K state. The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet recently passed an historic ordinance approving death penalty for child rapists and enhancing the jail term for those convicted of raping girls aged 13 and above. The main feature of the ordinance passed by J&K Cabinet is capital punishment for those convicted of raping a child below 12 years of age.
The J&K Protection of Children from Sexual Violence 2018 ordinance passed by the state Cabinet is similar to the one passed recently by the Union Cabinet amending the POCSO Act, 2012 providing punishment for those convicted of raping a child below 12 years of age.
Under J&K Protection of Children from Sexual Violence 2018 ordinance, death penalty/life imprisonment will be awarded for sexual offences against children up to the age of 12 years. Investigations of cases have to be completed within two months and trial to be completed in six months. The Jammu and Kashmir criminal law ordinance penalizes a perpetrator committing rape of a girl below 16 with 20 years of rigorous imprisonment extending to life.
Jammu and Kashmir Protection of children from sexual violence act (JKPCSVO) Act, 2018 also includes setting up of fast track courts with speedy investigation of the cases of such crime thus stressing much on the trial which is more victim friendly to avoid the further alienation of the victim. There is a provision of involvement of female police officers to investigate the rape cases. The time frame set up for such cases has been set to two months. The trial will be followed in camera with tougher bail provisions for the accused until proven innocent.
The ordinance moved by state cabinet is an historic initiative in the journey of the fight against child offences. The JKPCSOVO Act is at par with the POCSO Act, 2012 and includes similar provisions as the POCSO Act. The Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra has approved both the ordinances passed by the cabinet one of which provides with death penalty to perpetrator committing rape of a girl below 12. Two ordinances that received Governor’s nod are the Jammu & Kashmir Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 & The Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Ordinance, 2018. Ordinance on rape passed in India excludes Jammu and Kashmir and, therefore, Vohra passed two state ordinances separately amending state criminal laws, falling under the Jammu & Kashmir Criminal Law (Amendment) Act.
A vigorous campaign should be launched by the administration and NGO’s to spread awareness about these acts. These Acts can prove as an effective tool in curbing the rising graph of child offences in the state if implemented in letter and spirit. It is first major assault on the child offenders in the state. Jammu and Kashmir Protection of children from sexual violence act (JKPCSVO) should sow the seeds of struggle against the crimes against children. The victims of child abuses should get justice in the shortest possible time and stringent punishment should be given to the perpetrators.
The author works with the integrated child protection scheme(ICPS), District Baramulla. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org