In an observation that is bound to spark a debate, a trial court on Saturday advocated the use of "chemical castration" as an alternative to a jail term for rapists.
Additional sessions judge Kamini Lau said, "The Indian legislatures are yet to... address the issue (of rape) with all seriousness by exploring the possibility of permitting imposition of alternative sentences of surgical castration or chemical castration, particularly in cases involving rape of minors, serial offenders and child molesters or as a condition for probation, or as an alternative sentence in case of plea bargaining."
Delhi additional sessions judge Kamini Lau suggested castration as an alternative punishment for rapists while hearing the case against a man who had raped his 15-year-old step-daughter for over four years. Though the court sentenced him to 10 year of rigorous imprisonment, it said that such crimes were required to be addressed differently. "A full public debate, with regard to imposition of castration (both surgical and chemical) as an alternative punishment for the offence of rape and molestation, is the need of the hour," ASJ Lau said. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on convict Dinesh Yadav, 35, a labourer by profession.
It directed that a copy of the order be sent to the secretary of ministry of law and justice, Government of India and national commission for women.
The Indian Penal Code provides only a jail term for sexual offenders. Countries like USA, UK, Germany, etc, have started using chemical castration as an alternative. Chemical castration is administration of medication designed to reduce libido and sexual activity, usually in the hope of preventing rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders from repeating their crimes. In surgical castration, the testes or ovaries are removed through an incision in the body. Medical experts, however, are divided on the efficacy of the method.
The judge observed that though the method is "not the perfect solution to inhibit child molestation", it certainly discourages sexual assault better than incarceration.
The court expressed its apprehension that the idea may get panned by activists. "I am not oblivious of the fact that arguments are bound to be raised against the above by some activists, but in my view, it would be sheer hypocrisy given the damage the rapist and sexual predators do to their victims,'' the judge added.