Union Cabinet to discuss Verma panel report

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 01, 2013 19:15 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IBNS) The Union Cabinet will meet on Friday to discuss the Justice Verma Committee report that has recommended stringent laws against sexual violence.

The special meeting of the Union Cabinet will be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reports said.

Singh has said the government will be ´prompt´ in pursuing the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee on stringent laws against sexual violence.

Singh wrote to Justice (Retd) J.S. Verma on the report submitted by the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law where he said: "That the Committee submitted its report within a short period of 30 days is testimony to your commitment and concern for the public good. On behalf of our government, I assure you that we will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the Committee."

Flaying the law enforcers and calling for police reforms, the Justice Verma Committee tasked by the government to suggest stringent laws against sexual violence submitted its "path-breaking" recommendations on Jan 23 to the Home Ministry, calling for enhancement of punishment to life sentence for the crime while stopping short of awarding death penalty.

The commission acknowledged the contributions of the nation´s youth in bringing the crime on the national agenda for change and booed the insensitivity of authorities in tackling the issue.

The panel also recognised voyeurism, disrobing, touching, stalking, eve-teasing as offences that are punishable, drawing applause from the women´s groups and citizens many of whom hailed it as a modern document in keeping with the times and a sort of Magna Carta of laws against sexual violence.

It also recognized the discrimination against the lesbians, homosexuals and transgender people calling such acts as unconstitutional as well.

The Verma Commission said the punishment for causing death or a permanent vegetative state of the victim shall be rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years but may be for life in real sense.

It said gang-rape shall be punishable of not less than 20 years and can also go up to life sentence.

The panel called for even 7 years term for voyeurism while also dwelt on sexual assaults and rapes in the conflict zones by men in uniform (read army).

"Impunity of systematic sexual violence is being legitimised by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)," it said and asked for reviews of such laws.

The panel also dwelt on child trafficking and suggested that trafficking of minor children must be made a serious offence with punishment which can go up to ten years from a minimum of seven years.

The three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma submitted its report to the government a month after it was formed following a national outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a Delhi bus on Dec 16 and her subsequent death from the injuries.

Justice Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanian, are the other two members of the committee.

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