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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

'Govt will review rape punishment'

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 25, 2012
First Published: 00:03 IST(25/12/2012) | Last Updated: 00:06 IST(25/12/2012)

The government on Monday indicated it preferred long-term fixes to serious crimes, including a re-appraisal of the death penalty, rather than hasty measures, even as it faced questions for a police crackdown on young protesters and media teams covering the protests near Parliament.

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In a rare instance, the government sent out a stern late-night advisory on Sunday, objecting to instances of "inappropriate coverage" by some news channels and warning of action.

"It has been observed that some private satellite channels…have not been showing due responsibility," the advisory said, asking channels not to report the events in a way that could "incite violence".

The News Broadcasters' Association, a self-regulatory industry body, slammed the crackdown, appealing to the government to allow the media to function freely.

Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said the advisory was aimed at sensitising the media since the horrific gangrape of a 23-year-old girl a week ago had resulted in a sensitive situation.

"Any action that impinges on press freedom is abhorrent. There is a case for moderation on all sides."

Tewari said the government was examining the issue of expanding the scope of death penalty to cover ghastly crimes.

Currently, Indian laws allow death penalty for rarest of rare crimes, usually murders. However, this would require broad consultations, including with the states.

"The government is seized of the need that severe punishment should visit crimes which are depraved and shock the collective conscience of society," Tewari said.

Asked why the government was not giving in to popular demand, such as removal of the city police chief, he said: "We continue to be both engaged and concerned about the situation. Within the larger objective of making public spaces safer, whatever needs to be done to ensure expeditious justice, we are fully committed to do that."


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