As demand for justice for the 23-year-old gangrape victim grew louder with protesters laying siege to Raisina Hill on Saturday, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi intervened to ensure the UPA government responds to the situation.
An “extremely worried” Gandhi called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. “She directed the government to take visible, stern and immediate action,” said a senior party leader.
“The party brass also felt that some action-like issuing suspension orders-against some errant cops should have been taken,” the leader added. In the evening, the Delhi Police suspended five cops for negligence of duty. A section of the Congress feels that Delhi Police leadership should also face the heat.
Pressed into action after Gandhi’s strong message, Shinde skipped an Intelligence Bureau function in the evening to focus on tackling the crisis caused by the protests at Raisina Hill.
The Centre, however, ruled out BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s demand to the PM to convene a special parliament session to amend anti-rape laws. UPA managers pointed out that legislation can be brought by issuing an ordinance.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury also spoke to Singh. He emphasised fast-tracking of the justice delivery system. “The conviction rate in rape cases is just 26%. There is a need to set up special courts to deliver quick punishment. The PM also agreed on this point,” he said.
In the morning, President Pranab Mukherjee spoke to the PM and discussed the situation. Rashtrapati Bhavan decided not to get involved in the matter.
Lok Sabha secretary general TK Vishwanathan said there is no legal bar to bring an ordinance on a bill that is lying before parliament, but UPA leaders pointed out that criminal laws don't have retrospective effect and new provisions-even if enacted-will not apply to the six accused in the ongoing gangrape case.