The brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in the Capital last month could have been avoided had successive governments not ignored for decades the guidelines laid down by courts for regulation of buses plying here, according to former chief justice of India JS Verma.
A day after the panel headed by him submitted its report recommending a series of measures to prevent heinous crimes against women, justice Verma told HT on Thursday that governments cannot escape responsibility by citing the absence of stronger laws to deal with emerging situations.
“Last month's horrific incident would not have taken place had governments at all levels bothered to implement strict control measures recommended by the Supreme Court and high court since 1997 for private buses plying in the capital,” justice Verma said.
“Had it not been for the public outrage following the December 16 incident, I am reasonably sure that measures like removing tinted glasses, curtains from vehicles and improvement in police patrol and street lighting would not have been implemented within days,” the former CJI added.
On why his panel emphasised effective enforcement of existing laws rather than recommending harsher sentences for those guilty of crimes against women, justice Verma said: "There is no inadequacy of laws in the country. No matter what kind of law you make, it cannot provide an answer to the failure of good governance."
The former CJI slammed the casual attitude of successive governments in protecting the rights of women. "Without bringing institutional changes to remove the inherent bias against women in society, laws have been made mindlessly on subjects affecting them."
Justice Verma cited enactment of separate laws on prohibition of dowry and prevention of domestic violence despite these offences being covered in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"One wonders why Parliament had to enact special legislation for dowry and domestic violence if the provisions of the IPC were being effectively enforced. It should be analysed whether multiple laws on same subject prove helpful," he said.