The Union Cabinet on Saturday approved an ordinance to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age.
Official sources said the criminal law amendment ordinance seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision to sentence convicts of such crimes to death.
The move comes against the backdrop of the rape and murder of girls in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua and Gujarat's Surat district recently.
The rape of a minor in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district had also outraged the nation. The ordinance would be now sent to the President for his approval.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has welcomed the decision, saying the law would go a long way in curbing the level of harassment against women and girl child in the country.
Mehbooba called for social mobilisation to ensure deterrence against heinous crimes against women besides undertaking general awareness about respecting women and their rights.
The CM also reiterated her government's resolve to bring in similar laws in the state.