The Madhya Pradesh government on Sunday cleared a proposal to enact a law for awarding death sentence to those guilty of raping girls aged 12 or below in the State. The moves comes in the wake of a spurt in rape incidents recently. “The Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan okayed the recommendation to hand down capital punishment for rape of girls aged 12 years or below,” M.P. Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya told PTI. “We are going to present a Bill to this effect in the winter session of the Assembly beginning Monday,” he said. He said the Cabinet also decided to give harsher punishment to those guilty of molesting, stalking and harassing women. Now, a fine of ₹1 lakh will also be imposed on such offenders, he added. Once cleared by the Assembly, the Bill for capital punishment for rape of girls aged 12 or below will be sent to the Centre which will send it to the President for his approval.Facing criticismThe Madhya Pradesh government had recently come in for criticism over incidents of rape. A 19-year-old UPSC aspirant was allegedly raped when she was returning home from a coaching institute on October 31 here. After public outrage, some police officers were suspended and transferred for the delay in registering an FIR. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2015 showed that Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases (4,391) in the country.According to the NCRB data for 2014, the State reported 5,076 rape cases, which was 14% of the total rape incidents reported in the country.