It also directed the government to form a commission to prevent rape and to support rape victims
The High Court on Sunday issued a rule asking the authorities concerned, including the law and home secretaries, to explain within four weeks why child rapists will not be awarded capital punishment.
It also asked the government agencies concerned to explain why their inaction to change the provision of "lifetime imprisonment" mentioned as the highest punishment for rape in the Prevention of Oppression against Women and Children Act 2000 would not be declared illegal.
The apex court also directed the government to form a commission within a month to prevent rape and to support rape victims.
It said that the commission would have to submit a report to the court within six months, mentioning the main reasons behind the increasing incidences of rape, and the probable remedial measures against the heinous offence.
The commission would be headed by an additional sectary to the law ministry, the court said, adding its members would human rights activists, representatives of the print and electronic media, lawyers, prominent citizens, doctors, and rape victims (if they agree).
The High Court bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahsan and Justice AKM Kamrul issued the order after hearing a public interest litigation (PIL).
Senior lawyer Barrister Rabeya Bhuiyan moved for the PIL, while Deputy Attorney General ABM Abdullah-Al Mahmud Bashar represented the state.
The court also wanted to know why a law would not be made to protect witnesses, and why a database would not be created to preserve the DNA reports of rape victims.
It also asked the authorities concerned to explain why steps should not be taken to set up a one-stop crisis centre in every district, and why the inaction to constitute a separate court to ensure quick disposal of all types of rape cases would not be declared illegal.
Moreover, the court wanted to know why the publishing of a rape victim's photo would not be declared illegal.
Supreme Court lawyer Barrister MS Kawser filed the PIL with the High Court seeking its directives to form an anti-raping commission.
The petitioner said incidents of child rape are increasing day by day.
"We are very alarmed at the increasing rate of these kinds of offences," he said.
"Against this backdrop, it is required that the High Court issues a directive to the authorities to change the current law, keeping a provision for death by hanging as punishment for child rapists," he added.
At the time of the hearing, the court commented on the recent discussions in the parliament about rapists.
The remarks made by two lawmakers in the parliament in support of killing sex offenders in "crossfire" were not right, the High Court said.