Delhi HC issues notice in plea against Death Penalty for gang rape of minor girls

Delhi HC issues notice in plea against Death Penalty for gang rape of minor girls

Ashutosh Gambhir

The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Union Home Ministry in a plea seeking to get Section 6 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 (prescribing death penalty for gang rape of women under 12 years), declared as being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The plea filed by NGO Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar (SAFMA) states that capital punishment is neither a solution nor a deterrence in such cases and that in a plethora of judgments, the Supreme Court has commuted death penalty to lower sentences on grounds of age and circumstances.

It is further stated that the death penalty, in its actual operation, is discriminatory as it mostly strikes against the poor and deprived sections of the society, while the rich and the affluent usually escape from its clutches.

The petition argues that punishment aims to serve two purposes i.e. deterrence and reformation. However, capital punishment is barbaric and medieval and is more about retribution. It disregards the reformative aspect of the criminal justice system, it is stated.

The petition also prays that a committee, headed by a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), preferably a female, be constituted to come out with preventive measures to control the incidents of rape, based on scientific principles and data. It is also prayed that this committee come up with progressive steps in the field of sentencing and reformation.

The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and sought its response.

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