NCM not in favour of death penalty for rape convicts

Opposing death penalty for rape convicts, the National Commission for Minorities has said such a "blanket provision" would prompt offenders to kill their victims while cautioning the government of "knee-jerk reactions".

NCM Chairperson Wajahat Habibullah, in recommendations to Justice Verma Committee, has also cautioned it against "knee- jerk" reactions in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape incident which has led to people demanding castration and public hanging of rapists.

"The laws concerning rape provisions should be made for enhancement of punishment with imprisonment of life and also liability to fine. A blanket provision for death would prompt offenders to kill their victims, compounding instances of rape and murder," the NCM in its recommendations said.

Habibullah forwarded the recommendations to the Committee on January 5, seeking amendment in definition of rape into "sexual assault".

The panel was formed by government to review and strengthen anti-rape and sexual offences laws.

"Life in prison is rigorous enough. It means paying penance for the sin for the whole life," the NCM said.

Terming the Delhi gang-rape incident as "horrific", it said, "Indian state needs to guard against knee-jerk reactions. People are asking for castrations, chemical castration, public hanging etc."

"Fast track courts should be designated to deal with such cases. It is also suggested that such cases should be decided by trial court within a period of 100 days. Six months should be the maximum period," it said.

Observing that "only quick decisions of the cases in such offences will have a deterrent effect", it said there should be a "lady public prosecutor to conduct the cases."
It also recommended sensitisation and training of police in handling all cases of crime against women.

"In place of a male police officer, a lady police officer should be assigned to register the complaint/FIR. To make this so, larger number of women might be recruited, and the law suitably amended to ensure this, with due consideration of the force including sections of vulnerable groups," it added.

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