Govt sits on Verma committee guidelines on gender equality | india | Hindustan Times
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Govt sits on Verma committee guidelines on gender equality

In a bid to douse public anger following the December 16 gang rape, the government had promptly announced a panel headed by former CJI late JS Verma for strengthening anti-rape laws. But nine months later, it appears to have ignored its recommendations on systemic changes required to end discrimination against women.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2013 03:33 IST
Nagendar Sharma
Delhi gangrape verdict

In a bid to douse public anger following the December 16 gang rape, the government had promptly announced a panel headed by former CJI late JS Verma for strengthening anti-rape laws. But nine months later, it appears to have ignored its recommendations on systemic changes required to end discrimination against women.

The panel, which had former high court chief justice Leila Seth and former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium as its members, had submitted its 644-page voluminous report to the government in less than a month.

The government first brought an ordinance in February based on the panel’s recommendations to update the criminal laws for providing an effective deterrent against sexual assault on women.This was followed-up by the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill being passed in both Houses of Parliament by March-end in response to growing demands for tougher anti-rape laws.

The Justice Verma panel had made sweeping recommendations on changes required in the society to end discrimination against women and for their equal participation in different spheres of life.

The government view, however, was that the panel was specifically set-up to make recommendations on how to make anti-rape laws more stringent and other recommendations were beyond its mandate.

These were referred to the ministries concerned, but it appears the recommendations appear to have been forgotten. The panel had drafted a bill of rights granted to women under the constitution.

It stated :”Every woman shall be entitled to respect for her life and the integrity and security of her person. All forms of violence, exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment targeting women are prohibited.”

The Justice Verma panel had cited India’s international commitments to point out that there was a need to update the existing laws to ensure they provided gender justice and gave women a chance to fight against widespread discrimination.

On how rape victims are treated in the society, the panel had asked the government to change the “old crude methods” of medical examination of such victims and make necessary amendments in the law to make sure that they are never confronted with the accused who have inflicted physical and mental injuries on them.