'Law not in favour of disclosing rape victim’s identity'



Kochi: Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Sunday said that the law as it currently stands is not in favour of disclosing the identity of the rape victim.

"The law today supports the view that the identity of the rape victim should not be disclosed and there are good reasons for that. Certain other views have been expressed. Maybe there is a point in what has been said. But the law as it currently stands is not in favour of disclosing the rape victim's identity," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function.

He was replying to a query on Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor's view that the Delhi rape victim's name should be revealed.

On imposing capital punishment for rapists, he said strong views have been expressed in informed circles both for and against it.

He said Justice JS Verma committee has been constituted to recommend changes in the laws, if necessary. The Union government was awaiting the recommendations, which is expected to be given by the end of this month or so.

"After these recommendations are given, the cabinet will deliberate and discuss these recommendations and take specific action as may be considered appropriate after a broad political consensus," Kumar said.

He said there is provision in existing law for life imprisonment for rape and capital punishment in the rarest of rare cases, for example if rape is followed by murder. "But what would constitute the rarest of rare cases will need to be left to the judiciary to be determined," he said.

The real challenge before law enforcers, courts and law makers is how to make implementation and enforcement of laws more effective. There are already very stringent provisions to deal with offenders of various crimes. But the final view will be taken after we receive the recommendations and deliberated afresh in the light of the recent incident.

Ashwani Kumar said he had written three letters to Chief Justices of all High Courts and Chief Ministers of all states to set up Fast Track Courts to deal with 'heinous' offences against women and most of them have responded positively.

The Chief Justices of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana High Courts had already announced constitution of FTCs, he said.

The Ministry of Law and Justice has assured funding and support for creating more fast track mechanisms and to give more subordinate officers, he said.

The minister said the strength of the lower judiciary is being increased by 10 percent to reduce pendency of cases, adding the total number of subordinate judicial staff at present is 18,000 in India.

Stating that over three crore cases are pending in courts in the country, he said in 2011-12, the pendency was reduced by six lakh and by 2013, the target was to reduce it by 20 lakh.

"This is a 'multi-pronged' effort to reduce the strain in our judicial system and make it more effective so that the faith of people in our legal system remains intact," he said.

On the proposed amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act, he said many recommendations have been made. There is demand for rationalisation of age for various purposes. But these matters have to be sorted out in cool and consensus manner, he said.

The UPA government's priority was to ensure affordable and expeditious justice delivery system, he said.

Earlier, speaking at 'Sameeksha' the legal enrichment camp of Indian Lawyer's Congress, he said the legal aid mechanism has to be strengthened to take justice to the people.

The government planned to set up 5,000 Grama Nyayalays so that the common man can get justice at his doorstep, he said, adding he had issued instructions to organise regional conferences to promote the idea.

The Centre would fund 75-90 percent of the amount and state governments would have to put in only 10 percent. This would ensure people need not travel far to seek justice.

"The UPA government is totally committed to autonomy and independence of the judiciary. The judicial accountability amendment bill and National judicial appointments bill will be tabled in the budget session of Parliament," he said.

PTI