Verma panel spares no one - Delhi government, police or public

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 17:39 hrs

New Delhi: The J.S. Verma Committee tasked to look into possible amendments to the criminal law for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for rapists, Wednesday slammed Delhi's police, public and the administration for not acting promptly to help the Dec 16 gang-rape victim.

Using strong words, the three-member committee that submitted its report to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Wednesday, said: "practically every serious breach of the rule of law can be traced to the failure of performance by the persons responsible in its implementation."

"The undisputed facts in public knowledge relating to the Delhi gang-rape unmistakably disclose the failure of many public functionaries responsible for traffic regulations, maintenance of law and order and, more importantly, their low skewed priority of dealing with complaints of sexual assault," the 631-page report said.

The panel also commented on the "disputes relating to jurisdiction of the police over the area of crime" that leads to delay in taking cognizance - an allegation made by the victim's male friend who had said that police wasted crucial time in taking the seriously injured woman to hospital while they fought over jurisdiction.

In its recommendations, the panel came down heavily on the administration, including police as well as citizens, for not helping the grievously wounded young woman and her friend who were thrown off the bus after the brutal gang-rape.

The panel also slammed the police practice of "approaching only a government hospital and not the nearest available hospital" in a medico-legal case. The 23-year-old physiotherapist trainee was driven many kilometers away to government-run Safdarjung Hospital, though there were many good private hospitals near where she was found in a bloodied condition.

It also took an open dig at the "peculiarity" of the Delhi government of not having the power over the police and said this "ambiguity" needs to be removed to maintain law and order and ensure accountability.

The "apathy of civil society" in not coming forward to help the couple came in for sharp criticism from the committee.

It noted "the misbehaviour of police towards any Samaritan is often the cause for such apathy" and added this must not deter citizens from doing their duty.

Justice Verma also slammed Delhi Police for using batons on the anti-rape agitators, saying it "has scarred the Indian democracy."

Delhi Police had attracted lot of criticism for using batons, water cannons and tear gas smoke against protestors after some of them turned violent and tried to enter crucial government buildings, including Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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