Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Verma Committee disappoints

Justice J. S. Verma Committee’s report submitted on 23/1/2013 is a disappointment. The committee headed by Ex-CJI Jagdish Sharan Verma had Ex-Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium and Ex-CJ of Himachal Pradesh Leila Seth as members. The committee was appointed after Delhi gang rape on 16/12/2012. There was no need to appoint the committee. The government wanted to buy time as there were protests. It did not want to extend the winter session or call a special session or call all-party meeting.
It is said the committee went through around 80,000 suggestions and submitted its report within 29 days. It seems the committee agreed to the suggestions by NGOs and activists who oppose death penalty and castration and ignored large number of people who wanted death penalty and castration. The committee was appointed to suggest amendments to criminal laws to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women. The committee failed in that.
The committee did not recommend death penalty even in cases of rape and murder. It did not recommend lowering juvenile age to 16 and trial of criminals who commit rape and murders as adults whatever be their age.
The committee strayed into territories it was not required to. It was not for them to suggest a constitutional authority be appointed to monitor gender justice goals. It talks about marital rape which is an oxymoron. It talks about khap panchayats and says they are against women. Khap panchayats are against men and women who do not follow their diktats. They commit murders which are euphemistically called honour killings. Here also Verma committee did not suggest death penalty for murder. The committee went into affidavits by candidates and registration of political parties.
The committee suggested new sections for some crimes. It wants section 354B for voyeurism. Will a man be punished for looking at a woman in bikini on the beach? It wants section 376(3) with punishment from 20 years to life for death cause while raping. Why not both castration and death? It wants section 376E with punishment for whole life for repeat rapists. Why not death or castration? A dead or castrated man cannot rape again.
The committee did not suggest hypnotism, brain mapping, and narco analysis on rapists so that no rapist gets away.
The committee talked of electoral reforms. It suggested that candidates against whom chargesheet for rape is filed be barred from contesting elections for six years. This is dangerous. Politicians can manage false chargesheets against their rivals. Someone had filed a rape case against Rahul Gandhi. Later he said he did it on the behest of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav.
The committee blamed police, politicians, and spiritual gurus for their statements against women. It talked about criminalization of politics and politicisation of crime. J. S. Verma was mild on judiciary. The committee did not blame lawyers who defend rapists, judges who let off rapists or give mild punishment, High Court and Supreme Court judges who reduce punishment given to rapists, Presidents who pardon or commute the sentences rapists and murderers, and NGOs and activists who oppose death penalty.
Many things the committee suggested had been suggested before and nothing has been done. The euphoria shown by some people over the report is misplaced.
The committee bought time for the government but created new problems. J. S. Verma said he was shocked to see Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar get a pat on the back from home secretary R. K. Singh. He said many DGPs did not respond and something needs to be done to review the appointment of the DGPs. The committee noted the peculiarity of city government where the chief minister had no control over the police.
The six criminals who committed the gang rape beat the woman with iron rods, cut her with blade, damaged her intestine, thought she was dead and threw her out of the bus. They wanted to run the bus over her. Proper punishment for these criminals is taking out their intestines, burning them, castrating them, and hanging them.

Updated: January 26, 2013 — 7:46 am

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