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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Verma panel may advise major haul of criminal law

Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 22, 2013
First Published: 00:17 IST(22/1/2013) | Last Updated: 00:20 IST(22/1/2013)

The Justice Verma panel, set up after nation-wide outrage over the December 16 gang rape in Delhi, is likely to focus on effective preventive measures against sexual assaults on women and point towards "gender insensitivity" of the police force.

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It may also recommend time-bound trials and major changes in criminal laws.

Exactly a month after it was set up following the brutal gang rape of a 23 year-old student in the Capital, the jurists panel headed by former Chief Justice of India JS Verma, and with former High Court Chief Justice Leila Seth and former Solictor General Gopal Subramanium as its members, will submit its voluminous report to the government on Wednesday.

The panel received around 80,000 suggestions and followed it up with two-day consultations spanning over 24 hours over the weekend, with over 100 representatives of various organisations, including prominent women NGOs from different parts of the country.

Following the consultations and keeping in mind the sentiments of a large number of suggestions received, the panel is of the view that a "knee-jerk reaction" in the form of merely recommending changes in existing laws will not be sufficient. "Widespread discussions with experts from India and many other countries have led us to the conclusion that an effective legal framework which focuses on how to prevent heinous crimes against women is the need of the hour and not merely reactive measures after the crime has been committed," said a committee official.

Though the jurists panel has decided not to comment on whether police lapses were responsible for the gang rape, it will look into "gender insensitivity" of the police force across the country.

"Several women activists who met the committee pointed out that they were brutally beaten up by male policemen while protesting in the Capital after the gang rape last month. Can anyone defend it? It is high time that the law enforcing agencies be sensitised on gender issues," said the official.       

The panel is set to recommend time-bound trials in cases of any form of violence against women in designated courts.

It may also recommend bringing under the purview of criminal laws any kind of harassment such stalking and molestation, which are not clearly defined currently.


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