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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Centre seeks all-party opinion on changing rape law

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 31, 2012
First Published: 16:32 IST(31/12/2012) | Last Updated: 08:53 IST(1/1/2013)

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has decided to approach all political parties to request them for sending suggestions on changing rape laws to the Justice JS Verma committee.

The step comes even as the Congress's women's wing on Monday joined the clamour for capital punishment for rapists.

The party has already started internal discussions to firm up its suggestions for the Verma panel set up to review the existing legal framework.

In a seven point memorandum to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the All India Mahila Congress said severe punishment, exemplary in nature, should be given to culprits in rape cases.

The women's wing also asked the party that senior police officers, and not just the constabulary, should be held accountable for the recent gangrape of the 23-year-old student.

“The punishment should be in accordance with the heinousness of the crime committed,” it said and called for speedy and time-bound disposal of all cases of harassment against women.

Gandhi — who has decided to shun New Year celebrations in the wake of the ghastly incident — also directed senior leader Mohsina Kidwai to elicit views of party's women MPs and functionaries on the issue.

Kidwai held her first meeting with Mahila Congress office bearers on Monday which was attended by senior leaders including Girija Vyas, Renuka Chaudhary, Santosh Chaudhary and Anita Verma. The meeting expressed concern over the”disturbing low rate of conviction in rape cases and deteriorating value system” in the society.

The outcome of these meetings will be submitted to the Verma panel. “I feel the Congress president must have given some suggestions to the government,” said party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi.

The party has, however, distanced itself from proposals of chemical castration and 30-year imprisonment for rapists, pointing these could be views of individuals. It will strive for a consensus on the issue.

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