Delhi gang rape, murder was preventable: Ex-CJI Verma

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 27, 2013 10:50 hrs

Days after handing over a set of recommendations to the government, and the Union Home Ministry in particular, regarding steps to be taken to rework laws to prevent crimes against women, former chief justice of India J.S. Verma has maintained that the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman last month was preventable.

Speaking to media, Justice Verma, who headed a three-member panel that looked into laws related to women crimes and their safety, said that governance been as it should be, the December 16 incident would not have taken place.

"All those who were responsible for traffic regulation, policing, maintenance of law and order, the manner in which they dealt with it, they are responsible," Justice Verma said.

"I quite appreciate that inspite of the best of efforts, such incidents may happen and could happen, but in this incident it was quite clear that those things which were preventable were not done," he added.

"These are not new laws, the laws are already present, but they are not implemented properly, and for that, we require good governance, which is not in place," Justice Verma said.

"These recommendations are an extension of those laws, these are not new. With time, as the requirements increase, there also emerges a need to upgrade the laws," he added.

"Worldwide, voices are being raised against the punishment of death penalty. So, recommending death penalty for another crime would be wrong. All the women organisations were against death penalty and chemical castration, and this was the common suggestion. Once awarded, the punishment is not reversible, as in cases where wrong judgment is delivered," the former chief justice said.

The assault of the physiotherapist student - who was raped by six people and tortured with an iron bar on a bus, then left bleeding on a highway - stunned the nation and generated an unprecedented wave of protests calling for better security for women.

The victim eventually died of massive organ damage on December 29, 2012 in a Singapore hospital two weeks after the attack.

Authorities in Delhi have since announced a raft of measures to help women feel safer on the city's streets.

These include a 24-hour helpline for women in distress, instructions to all BPOs to ensure female employees return home from work safely, more policing on the streets and a crackdown on drunk driving.

The report has abstained from recommending chemical castration and death penalty for rape, instead proposed life imprisonment for the entire natural life of a criminal. The committee also resisted from lowering the age of juveniles from 18 to 16.

According to reports, the most brutal of the six attackers on the young woman has claimed to be a juvenile.

Verma committee has also advised making stalking, disrobing a woman, trafficking, voyeurism and marital rape punishable under criminal law.

The panel has also recommended for a need to review the continuance of Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Verma said committing a sexual offence or raping a woman cannot be part of any duty.

"It is obvious that it cannot be the part of official function or duty of anyone doing any official function to commit any sexual offence or to rape a woman, and therefore, why should that extra immunity be available to any official," Justice Verma asked. (ANI)

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