The Chennai police has invoked the tougher law providing for death penalty against 17 persons accused of rape of a 12-year-old differently abled girl in a gated community.
An all-woman police station has filed a charge-sheet against the 17 who have been accused of having repeatedly raped the schoolgirl last April. All of them were employees of the gated community, including the security guard, driver, gardener and lift operators as well as water supplier.
The police has invoked the amended Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act which provides for death penalty for rape of under 12 and which came into effect from April 21.
The charge-sheet was filed on Wednesday in a special court for cases under POCSO Act. Special public prosecutor said the girl was raped over a period of seven months and it came to light after she told her sister who in turn informed their mother last April. This the first such case in Tamil Nadu under the new law.
The incident happened in an apartment complex in Ayanavaram in Chennai and social activists wondered how the girl’s parents, particularly her mother, failed to notice the change in the girl’s behaviour for such a long time and how such an incident in a gated community went unnoticed even by neighbours.
The Centre promulgated the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance in April, amending IPC to provide for a maximum punishment of life for rape of minors under 16, life imprisonment meaning for the rest of life of the convict. The ordinance followed outrage over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir last January.
Subsequently, the Centre enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in August and it was given retrospective effect from April 21 when the ordinance it sought to replace came into effect.
The POCSO Act of 2012 also provided only for life imprisonment. While amending the IPC, the Centre also amended the POCSO Act to provide for death penalty for rape of girls under 12.
Public prosecutor Mahesh Kumar has said that as the Ayanavaram multiple rape took place between April and July( when it was reported to the police),the amended POCSO Act has been invoked to get death penalty for the accused.