New Delhi: The shock and anger over rape of a woman in a taxi in Delhi echoed in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, prompting the government to promise stern action against the accused besides steps to create an atmosphere of safety for women.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh informed the House that this year, till November, 25,000 rape cases have been registered from across the country, which is a "national shame".
Taking a serious view of the situation, members cutting across party lines hurled questions as to how such incidents continue to occur despite "tall claims" of the government and a spate of initiatives after the infamous Nirbhaya episode of 2011 to protect women and a strong legislation.
Sharing concerns of the members, Singh said as a Home Minister, he was "pained" over such incidents.
Condemning the rape of the woman in a taxi by its driver on Friday night, he said the Centre has asked all states and union territories to ensure stoppage of web-based taxi services like Uber, which are not licensees with them.
Operations of Uber have already been banned in Delhi.
Singh, however, made it clear that the government was not in favour of banning taxi services but wants to regulate their operations. The government's intentions should not be questioned in this regard, he added.
Making a suo motu statement and replying to queries by the members, Singh said it will be ensured that all necessary steps are taken to bring the offender to justice.
The Home Minister said the Delhi Police, which comes directly under him, is examining the legal liability of the taxi service Uber.
He said the "character" certificate that the accused had obtained was fake. The accused was earlier apprehended on charges of rape and subsequently acquitted after a year.
Earlier, members condemned the heinous crime.
Anand Sharma (Cong) wanted to know whether the government was looking into lapses committed by Delhi police and Transport Department for not doing a background check before issuing license and registeration.
Taking a dig at the government, he said while it banned the Uber services, a Cabinet Minister criticised the action against the cab provider. He suggested that they may sit together and arrive at a consensus.
"We can not live like this. We are not safe," said woman member of CPI(M) TN Seema while demanding immediate safety and security measures for women.
Rajani Patil (Cong) said the previous UPA government's initiative to start a website to name-and-shame rape convicts by the National Crime Record Bureau has been given a quiet burial.
Jaya Bacchan (SP), who earlier said she will register her "silent protest", stood on her feet after the Minister's statment and said, "I am saying with lots of pain and angst that nothing happens here" on women safety issues.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien asked her not to make such remarks while saying the House was united in condemning the henious incident.
KC Tyagi (JDU) said he felt "ashamed to be a man" after such incidents and also pointed out slow pace of judicial process in Nirbhaya case.
SC Misra (BSP) questioned the utility of the large fleet of police vehicles for surveillance in checking such incidents.
Naresh Agarwal (SP) cautioned against giving political colour to the issue, Derek O' Brien (Trinamool) demanded to know what concrete action the government had initiated for safety of women since Nirbhaya incident including the number of all-women police stations and setting up of fast-track courts.