Lack of sensitivity towards women in existing laws and superficial efforts by successive governments to create an atmosphere of respect towards them, are on the radar of the judicial panel headed by former chief justice of India, JS Verma.
The justice Verma panel was set up on December 24, to recommend changes in the criminal law for making them effective in dealing with heinous crimes against women, following the brutal gangrape of a 23 year-old student in the Capital.
The panel, with high court chief justice Leila Seth and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium as its members, has decided to widen its terms of reference to also review the existing conditions of "gender justice and respect towards womanhood" in the country.
The panel is of the view that the entire effort of having stronger laws for protection of women would remain incomplete without plugging loopholes in the legal system, which lacks "gender sensitivity and respect for women rights.
Within a week of having given out its e-mail address, fax and phone numbers to invite suggestions, the panel has so far received more than 10,000 responses and it will continue to accept views from the public till 5 January.
A team of 15 young lawyers is working round-the-clock to tabulate views being received from the public, and it is regularly providing analysis to the panel about sexual assault related laws in different countries across the globe.
The panel is set to hold public hearings, though on a limited scale, to gather the views of individuals and organizations, coming up with concrete suggestions on how to provide an effective legal deterrent against commission of serious crimes against women.
Though the panel had refused to probe the latest incident along with recommending changes in criminal laws, it is expected to give its observations on the functioning of the Delhi Police in the report, which is expected to be ready by mid-January.