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States agree to reduce juvenile age from 18 to 16 yrs; no consensus on death for rape

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New Delhi: The Central and state governments on January 4 failed to evolve a consensus on death penalty for rape  convicts even as they seem to have agreed on the definition of juvenile by bringing down the age bar to 16 from 18 years. The day-long meeting of chief secretaries and  DGPs, convened by the Centre in  the wake of the gangrape of a girl in Delhi, discussed threadbare various ways to check crime against women and agreed to take steps for protection of women and initiating speedy trial and conviction of criminals.

“There is no consensus on amending the law to include capital punishment for rape. One or two chief secretaries have suggested but majority kept mum on the issue,” said a senior officer, who attended the meeting.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said all suggestions, including death penalty for rape, put forward by the chief secretaries and DGPs would be considered by the central government.

The representatives of state governments and top home ministry officials said rape convicts should be sentenced to life till death without any leniency or without parole.

Government had in December 4, 2012, introduced a bill in Parliament seeking to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, by replacing the word ‘rape’ by the words ‘sexual assault’ to make the offence of sexual assault gender-neutral and also widening its scope.

It proposes to enhance the punishment from the present seven years jail to life.