President Ram Nath Kovind said on Friday that a person accused of raping a minor should be denied the right of mercy under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) law. “There is no need to give them such right,” the president said this during the inauguration of the National Conference on Women Empowerment for Social Change at the headquarters of Brahmakumari in Mount Abu.
Referring to the crimes against women and girls, the president said, “Those who are accused like this have been given mercy petition rights in the Constitution. And I have said that you should reconsider it.”
The President said, “In the events under the POCSO Act, they (the accused) should be denied the right to mercy petition. They do not need any such right.”
Kovind said that Parliament must take a step in this regard. “Now it all depends on our Parliament. If it has a Constitution, it also has the provision of amendment. We are moving together in that direction,” Kovind said.
The president said, “Women safety is a serious issue. Rape convicts under the POCSO Act should not have the right to file mercy petition. Parliament should review mercy petitions.” He said that the incidents of demonic attacks on daughters shake the conscience of the country. It is the responsibility of every parent to strengthen the feeling of ‘respect for women’ in boys, he said.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Home Affairs has sent the mercy petition of the accused of gangrape and murder of Nirbhaya to the president with the request to dismiss the petition. The file had reached the Ministry of Home Affairs via Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal.
Of the four surviving convicts — the main accused Ram Singh had committed suicide in the prison while their minor accomplice is now a free man — who had raped and fatally injured a 23-year-old paramedic student on 16 December 2012, Vinay Sharma had filed the mercy petition before the president. The incident had shocked the nation, leading to massive public protests.