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MP: Post Bilkis Case, Govt Proposes Policy on no Remission to Gang-Rape Convicts

Under the proposed policy, those serving life sentence for terror acts, rape of minor, gang-rape, making hooch etc. will remain in prison till death.

Bhopal: Amid the raging debate over the release of 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat government, the saffron party in Madhya Pradesh has proposed a new policy of life sentence till death to such convicts without remission.

The proposed policy not only provides a life sentence without remission to those convicted in cases of terror act, gang-rape, making hooch and murder of on-duty government servants. The same rule will be applicable to those involved in a crime against the state government or any wing of the defence forces.

The convicts will not be released after the completion of 14 years in jail which is the minimum term of a life sentence.

The release of 11 prisoners from Godhra jail convicted for the gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and murder of several members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots caused widespread outrage across the country. They were released for their excellent behaviour after convicts' lawyers claimed that the release complied with the 1992 policy which allowed such concession in Gujarat.

“Under the proposed new policy-2022, those serving a life sentence for crimes like rape of a minor, gang-rape, terrorist activities, making hooch, foreign currency-related crimes and murder of two or more persons will have to remain in prison till their last breath,” a senior official said on Friday.

Further, those convicted under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 376 (rape) will have to undergo a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of 25 years including a remission period, the official said.

The life convicts in other cases will be released only after the completion of their actual 14-year or 20-year sentence, and that too on the recommendation of the collector, superintendent of police and district prosecution officer, the proposed policy says.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan reviewed the proposed policy at a meeting with home minister Narottam Mishra, chief secretary Iqbal Singh Bains and additional chief secretary (home) Dr Rajesh Rajora on Thursday evening, the official said.

The move came after Madhya Pradesh got the "title" of most unsafe state for women with the state reporting the highest incidents of rapes in the country in 2021 at 6,462 including 3,515 rape cases (54.3%) with minors, as per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report 2021. The state reported as many as 18 rapes every day, of which around 10 involved minors.

Shockingly, after four consecutive years of a dip in the number of rape cases, a sharp increase of 15.4% has been reported last year with 6,462 cases. In the year 2020, the state reported 5,598 cases of rape which was 5,822 in 2019, 6,480 in 2018 and 6,526 cases in 2017.

Under the present 2012 policy, the state has the power to remission of life sentences of any convict.

A committee headed by ACS home Rajora with the principal secretary (law) and Director General (DG) present, its members prepared the draft of the new policy after studying the policies in 10 other states, the official said.

According to the NCRB report 2021, as many as 2,790 convicted inmates and 4,637 undertrials are lodged in the state's 131 jails under rape cases. The state released 9,257 prisoners including 1,827 released after completing jail terms and 6,645 undertrials on bail.

Against its capacity of 29,571 inmates in 131 jails, Madhya Pradesh has 48,513 inmates, says the NCRB report.

Chief Minister Chouhan, meanwhile, also directed officials to prepare a draft proposal for a new Anti-Gambling Act with a provision against online gambling.

(With PTI inputs)

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