Governor N. N. Vohra has promulgated: (i) “The Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018”; and (ii) “The Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Ordinance, 2018”.
In view of the surge in violence against women in general and sexual violence in particular in various parts of the country, including the State of J&K, need was felt to carry out certain amendments in the Criminal Laws (the Ranbir Penal Code, Samvat, 1989; the Code of Criminal Procedure, Samvat, 1989; and the Evidence Act, Samvat, 1977) on the analogy of the amendments made in the Central Criminal Law in 2018.
The Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 seeks to amend: (i) the Ranbir Penal Code, Samvat, 1989; (ii) the Code of Criminal Procedure Samvat 1989; and (iii) the Evidence Act, Samvat, 1977.
The salient features of the aforesaid Ordinance include: (i) Committing Rape on a woman under sixteen years of age has been made punishable with rigorous imprisonment for twenty years and may extend to life sentence, which shall mean remainder of that person’s natural life; (ii) Committing Rape on a woman under twelve years of age has been made punishable with death sentence; (iii) Gang Rape on a woman under sixteen years of age has been made punishable with imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life; (iv) Gang Rape on woman under twelve years of age has been made punishable with death sentence; (v) Investigation in such cases is to be completed within a period of two months; (vi) Trial to be completed within six months and reasons for any delay shall need to be communicated to the High Court; and vii) It has been provided that no Bail shall be granted without hearing the Public Prosecutor.
The salient features of the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence Ordinance, 2018 are:
(i) It is a comprehensive Legislation which, inter-alia, provides for protection of Children from offenses of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest of the child and the well being of a child at every stage of the judicial process; (ii) it provides for alternative punishment for an act or omission constituting an offence under the Ordinance and also under various provisions of the State Penal Code relating to sexual assault. (iii) The Ordinance contains provisions relating to child friendly procedures and reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences; (iv) It also provides for provisions relating to establishment of Special Courts for speedy trial of such offences; and (v) it makes it mandatory for the educational institutions to ensure safety and protection of children and not to expose them to any kind of sexual abuse.
While according approval to the aforesaid two Ordinances the Governor has advised stringent enforcement by the Home Department which should establish a system for regular monitoring of all cases registered under these Ordinances.