New Delhi: A week after Justice JS Verma Committee submitted a report to the Union government on women’s safety in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday assured that his government will promptly take up the recommendations.
“We will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations,” PM Singh said in a letter written to Justice Verma.
"I am writing to thank you for your labour of love in completing the work of the committee our government had constituted to recommend amendments in law to be able to deal effectively with cases of sexual assault of extreme nature against women," he said.
The PM added that by submitting its report within 30 days, the panel has shown its commitment.
"The committee submitted its report within a short period of 30 days is testimony to your commitment and concern for the public good."
Among the recommendations made by the panel are life imprisonment for gang-rape convicts, speedy justice for the victims, review of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act`s working, and community policing.
The government had set up a three-member committee, headed by Justice Verma, to look into rape laws in the wake of the gruesome gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapist trainee in Delhi on December 16 last year.
While the panel stopped short of recommending death penalty for gang-rape, its voluminious report submitted to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also suggested amendments to criminal laws to provide higher punishment to rapists, including policemen and public servants.
"Gang-rape will entail a punishment of not less than 20 years, but which also may extend to life. Gang-rape followed by death shall be punished with life imprisonment," Justice Verma had said.
Releasing the 631-page report, Justice Verma said the committee has not suggested death penalty for rapist because there were overwhelming suggestions from the women organisations against it.
The committee proposed amendments to the Indian Penal Code and said stalking, acid attacks and voyeurism should be considered separate crimes.
While stalking or attempts to contact a person repeatedly through any means shall be liable to get a term of up to three years, acid attacks would be punished by up to seven years and voyeurism will be punished with up to seven years imprisonment, he said.
The report also proposed Bill of Rights for women that entitles every woman a life of dignity and integrity.
Under the bill, all forms of violence, exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment targeting women are prohibited.
It also entitles a woman to have the right to express and experience complete sexual autonomy, including with respect to her relationships and choice of partners.
The commission, however, did not alter the legally defined age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years - a demand by women activists after one of the accused involved in the Delhi gang-rape was found to be below 18 years.
Holding that Juvenile Homes in the country are not being run in a manner consistent with the spirit of Juvenile Justice Act, Justice Verma said: "There was a need to provide psychological, moral and educational support to juveniles."
(With IANS inputs)