Communist Party against ordinance on Verma panel recommendations

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 02, 2013 10:43 hrs

New Delhi: Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat on Saturday disapproved the government's ordinance to deal with crime against women, saying the content of the ordinance is doing injustice to the Justice Verma Committee's recommendations.

"We disapprove of the ordinance. The CPI-M has issued a statement that we disapprove of this ordinance. See when Parliament is meeting, it is just three weeks away; it is undemocratic in fact to bring an ordinance like this. And the content of the ordinance is doing injustice to the Justice Verma recommendations because it is highly selective in what it has included in the ordinance. And in fact what it has included in some parts also is against what Justice Verma has recommended. We don't agree with this ordinance," she said.

Karat said 'as far as death penalty is concerned, Justice Verma has already clarified and correctly that there is rarest of rare categories on our statute books today'.

"Therefore, a case of murder and rape would any case come under this category if that is what the judges want. Therefore, there was no need except to divert attention from the serious recommendations of the Committee on state's culpability, including recommendation to include the armed forces in the criminal law as far as sexual offences are concerned," she added.

The government has brought in an ordinance to introduce stricter penalties for crimes against women, including death in extreme cases, but ignored the Justice J.S. Verma Commission's recommendations on criminalising marital rape and reviewing controversial sections of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The ordinance introduced yesterday is also silent on the recommendation to bar politicians facing charges of sexual offences from contesting elections.

The Justice Verma Commission had suggested that marital rape should be made an offence, a key demand of women's rights activists. It also observed that sexual violence was being legitimised under AFSPA and suggested that such crimes by members of the armed forces be tried under ordinary criminal law.

The ordinance incorporates some but not all recommendations of the commission, a panel of three legal experts appointed in the wake of fierce street protests after the gang-rape of a medical student in Delhi last month.

The Justice Verma commission is against death penalty in rape cases and recommends a maximum punishment of life in jail. But the government has favoured capital punishment in rare cases.

The three-member committee led by former Chief Justice of India Justice (Retired) J. S. Verma, was constituted after a countrywide outrage following the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in a moving bus on the night of December 16 last year. 

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