Terming disgraced Haryana police officer SPS Rathore as an example of "fence eating the crop", Law Minister M Veerappa Moily on Tuesday stressed on the need to tighten laws to ensure that cases relating to sexual crimes are fast tracked.
"The enhanced punishment handed down to Rathore would send a clear cut message that use of power and authority to commit a crime would not go unpunished," Moily said.
He said the misuse of authority by Rathore was an example of "fence eating the crop...fence cannot eat the crop," he said.
A sessions court today enhanced the jail term of Rathore from six months to one-and-a-half years for molesting 14-year-old Ruchika Girhotra 20 years back following which the former top policeman was arrested by the CBI.
Moily said the punishment would "drive fear" in the mind of the people that if they commit such a crime, they will meet the same fate.
To a question on whether the enhanced punishment of 18 months was "enough", he said it was upto the CBI to decide. "It is not for me to judge (whether the punishment was enough...the judge has enhanced the punishment," he said.
Terming the "long delay" in punishing Rathore as "unfortunate", he said the Legislative department of the Law Ministry has drafted several laws to ensure that such cases reach a logical conclusion faster.
"The delay is unfortunate. In future we want to overcome this as delay helps accused to win over witnesses...the evidence also disappears," he said.
He said his Ministry has drafted laws on sexual offences related to children, teenagers and women and even proposed amending the Evidence Act. "The draft laws suggest quick investigation and fast tracking of cases...It (case) should be over within one year," he said.
Taking a lesson from the Ruchika case, the government is considering making molestation a non-bailable, cognisable offence in which the accused can be arrested on the basis of a complaint.
According to the draft of the proposed Sexual Crimes (Special Courts) Bill, 2010, the Law Ministry has proposed making molestation a cognisable and non-bailable offence.
So far, a person accused of molestation under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code could be granted bail as the maximum punishment stipulated is less than three years.
"According to the draft, a person cannot be released on bail unless the public prosecutor is given a chance to oppose the bail plea," a senior law ministry official told PTI.
"In other words, a judge cannot deliver an ex-parte judgement," he added. He said the details are being worked out.