Punish juveniles equally for heinous crimes, feels Justice Mehra

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 08, 2013 12:50 hrs

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Juveniles involved in heinous crimes should be meted out stringent punishment on par with adults, said Justice (retd) Usha Mehra, who recently submitted her report on the safety and security of women in the wake of the Dec 16 gang-rape.

The retired Delhi High Court judge, however, said these were her personal views.

Mehra also told reporters here that the government should avoid confusion by harmonizing the provisions of the three main laws dealing with the issue - fixing the age in protection of children against sexual abuse act, the age of consent for sex and the age of matrimonial rape as either 16 or 18 years.

"Only after this, can they (the government) harmonize the Juvenile Justice Act and fix any age whether 16 years or 18 years," she said.

However, she added, her personal views were that "stringent punishment should be given based on the crime. Punishment should be as much as that of an adult".

On the recent confusion prevailing over the definition of rape in the law which would be introduced in the parliament, she said: "Whatever word you use (rape or sexual assault), give a broad definition including all kinds of assault."

"The concept of gender equality may be avoided," she said.

She said that she has recommended in her report that proper provision should be made for rehabilitation of the rape victim and a special corpus should be created for her.

Mehra also emphasized on the need for sensitizing society and government, specially police. She said that there should be a screening during the process of selection of the police personnel to see their sensitivity to women's issues.

"Law should be made immediately to ensure that at the time of induction, policemen should be psychologically tested," she said adding that she has said in her report that courses for sensitization of policemen should be held.

"Judiciary should also be sensitized. They have given bail in cases of rape very liberally," she added.

Mehra suggested a committee consisting of civil society members like resident welfare associations and retired government officials or armymen in a particular colony to overview the working of local police.

The oversight committee should consist of five to six people and should work to make police more accountable. "I think this would ensure a lot of change in the attitude of the people".

On marital rape, she said: "No categorization was needed for marital rape. Rape is rape".

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