The Union Cabinet on Saturday has approved an ordinance to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to introduce the death penalty for rape of children younger than 12 years.

The decision was taken a meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence in 7 Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi.

The ordinance would be now sent to the President for his approval and is being initiated to enforce the amendment immediately before a bill is introduced and passed by Parliament.

Today’s ordinance also prescribes the minimum punishment in case of rape of women to increase from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years which is also extendable to life imprisonment.

In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years which again is extendable to imprisonment for rest of life.

Also, for speedy trial of rape cases, new fast track courts will be set up in consultation with States & Union Territories and High Courts.

The ordinance also prescribes that there will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

The decision comes in wake of outrage over two recent rape cases from Kathua and Unnao and has been lauded and welcomed by BJP leaders and party workers.

However, members from opposition parties still continue to question the effectiveness of the act.