New Delhi, Jan 1: The government does not seem to be serious on creating an environment for women to feel safe in public places. Even after so many days of debate and discussions, not to speak of continued protests and suggestions, the government has not bothered to set a timetable for action.
Instead of shooting of letters to others, Home Minister SushilKumar Shinde should draw up a timetable on enactment of laws. The government has asked political parties to give their views on reviewing rape laws to Justice J S Verma Committee, set up to suggest amendments in the statute to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault against women.
In letters to leaders of all national and state political parties, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in the light of gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi, the government has given its anxious consideration to the need for reviewing the present laws relating to sexual assault of extreme nature against women.
The government had on December 23 constituted the Committee under the chairmanship of Justice (retd) Verma, former Chief Justice of India, to look into the possible amendments of the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment to criminals in such cases.
"I shall be grateful if you could forward your views on the issue to the Committee so that the Committee can consider them while making their recommendations. I would urge you to communicate your views as early as possible as the Committee has been asked to finalise its recommendations early," he said in the letter, a copy of which was made available today.
The three-member Committee has been asked to submit its report to the government in 30 days. The other members of the Committee are Justice (retd) Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam. Justice Verma Committee has become fully operational and in located in Vigyan Bhavan Annexe in New Delhi and can be contacted at telephone no.- 011-23022031 and through email :- firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions and views.
Under the existing law, the maximum punishment for rape is life term but the nationwide outrage over the December 16 gangrape of the physiotherapy student in a moving bus here has sparked a demand for death penalty to rapists. The girl breathed her last on Saturday in a Singapore hospital. Congress President Sonia Gandhi has stepped in to make some key suggestions to the government for stricter laws on sex crimes against women and enhanced punishment to the perpetrators. BJP has favoured death for perpetrators of such heinous crimes and demanded a special session of Parliament for amending the laws.
The government has, however, brushed aside the opposition demand for an immediate special session, saying a decision on the issue could be taken only after the Justice Verma Committee gives its report.
(With PTI inputs)