Death penalty in rape case

Our Criminal Lawyers have discussed below the law relating to “Death penalty in rape case” as it is applied by Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh.

‘An Angelo for Claudio, death for death.’
Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure.
(Measure for Measure, by Shakespeare)


Committing rape is by far the lowest the humanity can stoop to. Rape is not merely a crime against the victim but against the victim’s soul, the nation’s conscience and also against humanity at large. Doing anything without other individual’s consent is itself a crime and committing rape crosses all limits. Hence it is quite possibly the worst crime.

What immediately needs to be done is to severely punish the culprits and warn possible future culprits about the outcome of this misdeed. The new stringent law which has prescribed death penalty for culprits committing the heinous crime on children of age of 12 years and below is by far the best law possible to inflict fear in the minds of such criminals.

However, most of the people believe that committing rape itself irrespective of the age of the victim should be treated with the same amount of punishment since in India, education hasn’t succeeded in sensitising the people and lessening the incidence of rape.

Consequently, an ordinance with the provision for death penalty for rapists of children below the age of 12 years and other stringent penal provisions/ amendments for rape has been passed after the outrage that followed the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.

The Ordinance titled the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 2018, amends Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Evidence Act, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. In this law guide, we will help you understand the new law with its salient features and how it amends the existing laws already prevalent in India.

Salient features of the Law
• Minimum Punishment for Rape is now 10 Years
• Minimum punishment of twenty years to a person convicted of rape on a woman aged below 16
• Minimum Punishment of 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and maximum Death penalty/ Life Imprisonment to a person convicted of rape on a girl aged below 12
• A just and reasonable fine shall be imposed so that the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim are met.
• A police officer convicted of rape at any place shall be awarded rigorous imprisonment of minimum ten years
• Investigation in rape cases has to be completed within 2 months
• No provision of anticipatory bail can be granted in case the victim is a girl of age less than sixteen years

Amendment to Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Section- 376 of IPC: Minimum punishment for Rape has been increased to 10 years from earlier 7 years. The Maximum punishment remains the same, i.e. Life imprisonment. A new clause (3) has been added to Section- 376, which provides for a minimum punishment of twenty years to a person convicted of rape on a woman under 16 years of Age.

A new Section- 376AB has been inserted which prescribes a minimum punishment of twenty years rigorous imprisonment to a person convicted of committing rape on a woman less than twelve years of age. Capital sentence can be awarded to such a person as well.

Sections- 376DA and 376DB have provisions for minimum punishment of life imprisonment for persons involved in gang rape of a woman aged less than 16 years and 12 years respectively.The death penalty is also provided for persons involved in gang rape of a girl less than 12 years in age.
These sections also provide for a fine to be imposed which shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim and the fine so imposed shall be paid to the victim.

In Section- 376 (2) (a), the sentence “within the limits of the police station to which such police officer is appointed” has been omitted. This omission implies that a Police officer is to be punished with rigorous imprisonment of a minimum of 10 years, no matter where he commits rape.

The investigation related to all rape cases shall be completed within three months from the date of recording of information by the officer in charge of the police station.The provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure have also been amended and a subsection has been inserted as per which six months time has been prescribed to dispose of an appeal in rape cases.

A person accused of rape of girls of age less than sixteen years cannot be granted anticipatory bail.
New Sub Section has been added to Section- 439 which has made the presence of informant or any person authorized by him mandatory at the time of hearing an application for bail to a person accused of rape of girls of age less than 16 years.

Amendment to Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Evidence Act
Section- 42 of the POCSO Act has been also amended to include newly inserted I.P.C. provisions Section- 376AB, Section- 376DA, and Section- 376DB. Section- 53A of the Evidence Act that deals with evidence of character or previous sexual experience not relevant in certain cases and Section- 146 of the Act which deals with evidence of character or previous sexual experience not relevant in certain cases, has been amended as well to include newly inserted IPC provisions Section- 376AB, Section- 376DA, Section- 376DB.