Indian President Ram Nath Kovind Sunday signed an emergency executive order to allow courts to give the death penalty to child rapists, officials said.
The Indian government approved a decision to pave way for meting out stringent punishment during a cabinet meeting on Saturday, including death penalty to those convicted of raping girls under 12 years.
"With the presidential promulgation, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act now stand amended," an official said.
"Under the new law, new fast-track courts will be set up to deal with rape cases."
According to the order, death sentence will be given to rapists of girls under 12 years old, while as in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for life.
And the minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from seven years of imprisonment to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
The new law also provides for speedy investigation and trial into rape cases.
"The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months," the officials said. "Six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed."
In the new law, there will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years old.
The decision comes against the backdrop of massive public outrage following the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Indian-controlled Kashmir's Kathua district.
Sexual attacks on women and girls in India puts a question mark on their safety.