Khap panchayats in Haryana have opposed the demand for death penalty for rapists, saying such laws can be misused.
"Amending the law and introducing death penalty for the rapists can lead to negative consequences," khap leader Sube Singh Samain told the media at Uklana, about 45km from here, on Monday. People think that rapists should be hanged but if such amendments were introduced in the Act, many fake cases of rape would come up and the law would be misused in those cases, he said.
He said they had seen the anti-dowry and the Schedule Casts and Schedule Tribes (SC/ST) laws being misused and any new law, which gives such harsh punishment to rapists, would also be vulnerable to misuse. Instead, khaps demanded that rapists must be boycotted socially and their right to property scrapped. "The guilty should be behind the bars for at least 20 years without parole," Singh said.
The remarks came amid the national outrage over the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in New Delhi, which provoked nationwide protests and debates about violence against women in India. The victim died on Saturday at a Singapore hospital, prompting promises of action from the Centre that is struggling to respond to public outrage.
"The incident that happened in New Delhi was brutal. For such cases, we have the provision of Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), under which all accused rapists can be awarded death penalty," Singh said.
The khap leader said, "How can women be safe in a country where votes are sold? Gangrape is an act of savagery but death sentence in each case is not the right recourse." There were instances when false cases were registered due to enmity or vengeance, he said, adding that there were cases of consensual sex, which were later, framed as rape cases.