Seldom does a crime result in change of laws. The December 16 gang rape is one such criminal incident that has led to wide ranging changes in rape laws in India.
The brutal assault on the 23-year-old woman and her subsequent death in a Singapore hospital triggered public outrage leading to a sustained public campaign for women’s safety and change in rape laws.
As thousands of men, women and even children came out on the streets in and around the seat of power in the Capital, the government was within a week forced to set up a panel under the chairmanship of former chief justice of India JS Verma to “look into possible amendments of the criminal law to provide for quicker trials and enhanced punishment for criminals committing criminal assault of extreme nature against women”.The panel submitted its report within a month recommending wide-ranging changes in rape laws, besides other systemic changes to deal with crimes against women.
Change in rape laws
Acting on the recommendations of the Verma committee, Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, that widened the definition of rape and also provided for death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leave her in a vegetative state. It also created several new offences such as causing grievous hurt through acid attacks, sexual harassment, use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.
As then CJI Altmas Kabir asked all high courts to fast-track cases related to crimes against women, six special courts were set up in Delhi to exclusively try cases of sexual offence against women. The Delhi HC issued directions to all additional sessions judges in Delhi that cases of sexual assault on women will be tried on a day-to-day basis.More PCR vans
The HC directed the Home Ministry to increase the number of police control room (PCR) vans in the Capital for stricter patrolling of the streets and ensure better safety for women.
Crackdown against tinted glass
It ordered the city police to intensify the crackdown against all vehicles with tinted glass, black films and curtains as the 16/12 crime was committed in a bus with tinted glass.