Make rape laws more tough, Sonia tells govt

Amid public outrage over crimes against women, especially rape, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has suggested the government to introduce “more stringent” punishment norms in laws that deal with such cases after holding consultations with senior party leaders and experts, according to party spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi.

"The Congress president has had detailed consultations with some senior party leaders and legal experts on how to make more effective laws regarding sex crimes against women so that more stringent punishment could be meted out swiftly to perpetrators. Certain views have been taken,” he said.

He, however, refused to disclose the suggestion made by the UPA chairperson to the government.

Party sources said during consultation with various stakeholders on the issue, various suggestion were made to Gandhi that included making chemical castration as punishment for rape or imprisonment of up to 30 years and setting up of separate fast-track courts to
decide such cases within a 90-day time frame.

However, a section of the party leaders were not in favour of capital punishment for rape. They were of view the law should stipulate imprisonment for life to the convicts. Such convicts should be made to work throughout their sentence period so that their income was sent to the victim's family.

There were also suggestions to re-define juvenile and lower their age limit. Some of those consulted by Gandhi were of the view that only those aged below 15 years should be described as juvenile, as one of the accused in the Delhi rape-case, who allegedly showed maximum brutality on the victim while perpetrating the crime with co-accused, was a juvenile and aged a few months less than 18 years.

"I feel she must have given some of these suggestions to the government. My feeling is that some measure will come up incorporating these suggestions as well on the basis of the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma Committee," he told reporters here.

Senior Congress leader Mohsina Kidwai, meanwhile, also held a meeting here at All India Congress Committee headquarters with women MPs. Among women MPs making various suggestion to check crime against women, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary suggested for maintaining a register of rape convicts.

Chowdhary, later, addressing press conference, said that the Congress president held discussions with different stakeholders and experts so that a "very strong legislation" to check such crimes can come up.

"Dicussion are going on. Chemical castration may be just one of the options examined. May be she (Gandhi) talked to the government. All options are open to be examined," she said when asked.

The issue will also figure in party’s Chintan shivir’ to be held in January, party sources said.

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