Rape Cases Must Be Processed Faster, India's Supreme Court Rules
The government approved the death penalty last month for those convicted.
India's Supreme Court Tuesday ordered high courts to ensure speedier investigations of child rape cases, amid outrage over recent rapes and killings of young girls and other attacks on children.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, also ordered the creation of task forces to investigate the fast-track cases and that they be decided by special courts.
"Efforts have to be made by high courts to provide child-friendly courts," the court said.
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As the political fallout heightened over the surge in rapes and killings of children, the Indian government approved the death penalty last month for those convicted of raping children under the age of 12.
The move was seen as an effort to signal the government's commitment to fight crimes against young girls and infants as it faces mounting criticism for not doing enough to tackle what some call India's epidemic of sexual violence.
Indian cities have recently seen street protests by agonized citizens after details emerged about the gang rape in January in Kashmir of an 8-year-old Muslim girl, who was kidnapped, drugged, and raped for days and then murdered. Anger grew because Hindu activists had demonstrated in support of the eight arrested men.
Separately, an Indian spiritual guru with millions of followers was sentenced to life in prison last month for raping a teenage girl.
Asaram Bapu, one of India's most charismatic and controversial "godmen," was sentenced at a closed hearing inside the prison where he is being held in the city of Jodhpur, due to concerns his followers may resort to violence.
The trial was the most recent in a string of high-profile rape cases in India that have sparked public protests and raised questions about how law enforcers handle rapes and treat victims.
The 77-year-old self-styled religious preacher, who urges followers to live a life free of sexual desires, has repeatedly denied raping a then 16-year-old girl five years ago during a spiritual retreat.
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