New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind signed an ordinance to pave way for providing stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.

The Union Cabinet Saturday approved the ordinance to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping girls under 12 years. New fast-track courts will be set up to deal with such cases and special forensic kits for rape cases will be given to all police stations and hospitals in the long term, according to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2018.

The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from the rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment, they said. Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence, they said.

The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months. The deadline for the completion of the trial in all rape cases will be two months, the officials said. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gangrape of a girl under 16 years.