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Government assures Verma charter implementation

Posted on Jan 24, 02:14PM | IBNS

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has assured to implement the sweeping and "path-breaking" recommendations of the Justice Verma panel in preventing sexual violence on women and punishment of the offenders.

Flaying the law enforcers, the government and urging police reforms, the Justice Verma Committee tasked by the government to suggest stringent laws against sexual violence submitted its "path-breaking" recommendations on Wednesday to the Home Ministry, calling for enhancement of punishment to life sentence for the crime while rejecting death penalty for rape.

The junior home minister in the UPA government said some of the suggestions in the report, hailed as a modern document in prevention of sexual violence, would be implemented even before the report was taken up in Parliament in February during the budget session.

"We are committed to implementing the recommendations of the panel. There's no question of being late or lethargic towards submitting our recommendations to the panel," said RPN Singh, who is the Minister of State for Home.

He said every possible step would be taken to implement the recommendations.

"It's a long report, we will look at the entire report in detail and decide what's to be done. Expect a few decisions before the Budget Session of Parliament," Singh was quoted in a news channel.

On Wednesday, the Verma commission acknowledged the contributions of the nation's youth in bringing the crime against women on the national agenda for change and booed the insensitivity of authorities in tackling the issue.

Besides rape, the panel also recognised voyeurism, disrobing, touching, stalking, eve-teasing as offences that are punishable, drawing applause from the women's groups and citizens many of whom hailed it as a modern document in keeping with the times and a sort of Magna Carta of charter against sexual violence.

It also recognized the discrimination against the lesbians, homosexuals and transgender people calling such acts as unconstitutional as well.

The Verma Commission said the punishment for causing death or a permanent vegetative state of the victim shall be rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years but may be for life in real sense.

It said gang-rape shall be punishable of not less than 20 years and can also go up to life sentence.

The panel called for even 7 years term for voyeurism while also dwelt on sexual assaults and rapes in the conflict zones by men in uniform (read army).

The panel also dwelt on child trafficking and suggested that trafficking of minor children must be made a serious offence with punishment which can go up to ten years from a minimum of seven years.

The three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma submitted its report to the government a month after it was formed following a national outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a Delhi bus on Dec 16 and her subsequent death from the injuries.

Justice Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanian, are the other two members of the committee.

Justice Verma minced no words when he said "I was shocked" to see the Home Secretary pat the back of the Delhi police commissioner for investigation in the Delhi gang-rape case when he should have ideally asked for apology for failing to protect citizens.

"You have all these laws but if they had not worked by the people with sensitivity required.... the most perfect laws also will remain ineffective, without the efficiency and individual virtuosity of the human agency for implementing the laws," he said.