The move comes in the wake of massive outcry over the government's inaction against the rising number of rape cases, the most recent of which receiving global condemnation, was the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua city of Indian-held Kashmir.
In the emergency meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cabinet passed an executive order, or ordinance, to amend the criminal law to also include more drastic punishment for convicted rapists of girls below the age of 16 years.
The latest outpouring of national revulsion came after details emerged of the gang rape of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in a Hindu-dominated area of Jammu and Kashmir state.
The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of the life of the convict, officials said.
The order will remain in effect for a period of six months from the president's approval, or until parliament votes the changes into law.
Earlier this month, an 11-year-old girl in Surat was also raped and murdered by strangulation.
Punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.
The Justice Verma committee, formed in the aftermath of the December 2012 Delhi gang rape case, had held in its report that "death penalty would be a regressive step in the field of sentencing and reformation".
India summarily introduced the death penalty yesterday for the rape of girls under the age of 12. The post-mortem revealed the girl had been tortured, raped, strangled and smothered.
In addition, an official from Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was arrested and charged with raping a minor, the Post reported.
A 2014 United Nations report said one in three rape victims in India was a minor. The police report said she had 86 injuries and was also brutalized with blunt objects.
Activists say lax implementation of laws and snail-paced trials fuel the "rape culture" in India, with many accusing police of being slack in cases involving influential people.
The politician remained free for nearly a year after police rejected pleas from the victim to file a rape case against the legislator.