States seek stricter punishment for rapists, more women police

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 06, 2013 17:40 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) The conference of state police chiefs and chief secretaries has suggested a slew of measures such as increasing punishment for gang-rape and recruiting more women in police to combat crimes against women, an official press release said Sunday.

Others include fast-track courts for crimes against women, a single dedicated helpline for women across the country, zero tolerance for petty offences and bringing down the age of juveniles to 16 from 18.

The conference, chaired by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Friday, also called for a national data base for sexual offenders, gender sensitisation of police force, more recruitment of women in police and their deployment at every police station, and strengthening forensic capabilities and community policing.

Other suggestions included global positioning system in transport buses, standard operating procedures in crimes against women, defining rights of victims, appointing nodal officers in each district, having women judges and prosecutors and removing discretion in grant of bail in heinous cases or when there is presumption of crime having been committed.

However, there was no consensus on what the enhanced punishment for gang-rape should be.

Informed sources said that the suggestions were likely to be sent to the Justice J.S. Verma panel which has been constituted for reviewing laws to provide for speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault.

According to the statement, participants at the conference felt expansion of police is necessary and reluctance of women to join police should be reduced by reserving posts for them.

They said that there was need to increase the number of response vehicles (PCR) and women PCRs could be started.

Investigations in rape cases should be completed within 30 to 90 days and a time frame for filing charge sheet should be defined, they said.

"Recording of information should be only by women and if necessary, by audio/video recording. Medical practitioner who examines a rape victim must be a woman. Police protection for the victim till the trial ends should be given," they said.

It said that fast track courts were necessary. "Court procedure should prevent humiliation of the victim and character assassination must be stopped. There should be no adjournments once trial starts with day-to-day hearings. Prosecutor should be of the choice of the victim."

The conference was called by the central government in the wake of wide public outcry over brutal gang-rape of a young girl in the capital and concern over safety of women. The girl later died in a Singapore hospital Dec 29.

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