Panel agrees with Govt, refuses to term marital rape a crime

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 01, 2013 10:57 hrs

New Delhi: A parliamentary panel Friday upheld death penalty in rare cases of rape and for repeat offenders, as suggested by a central ordinance, while shying from terming marital rape a crime in its recommendations.

"The panel has approved death penalty in rarest of rare cases of aggravated sexual assault and has recommended the same punishment for repeat offenders," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Venkaiah Naidu, who heads the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, said here at a press conference.

"As many as 54 percent rape cases involve repeat offenders," he said.

The standing committee's report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha Friday.

Two members of the committee, D.Raja of the Commmunist Party of India (CPI) and Prasanta Chatterjee of the Commmunist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), dissented on the issue, said Naidu.

However, the panel deferred the controversial issue of lowering the legally defined age for juvenile offenders from 18 to 16 years. The issue has been in sharp focus since the brutal assault and gang rape of a Delhi girl in Dec 2012. She later died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital.

"There was no consensus on the needs to be further debated," said Naidu.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, around 64 percent of all crimes are committed by juveniles, he said.

The panel declined to term marital rape as a crime, saying it could disturb a family. But it said any sexual assault by a husband on his wife during the period of their judicial separation must be treated as a cognizable offence.

"It should not disturb a family...that was the view of the committee," said Naidu.

The government has already introduced in the upper house the ordinance to make anti-rape laws more stringent and is likely to bring a bill in the ongoing budget session incorporating the views of the Justice Verma panel (set up after the brutal assault and gang-rape of a Delhi girl in Dec 2012), the ordinance and suggestions of the standing committee.

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