29 days and 80,000 suggestions

A mammoth work done in a short span of 29 days, the Justice J S Verma committee came out with a voluminous 631-page “Report of the committee on amendments to criminal law” after going through each of a total of 80,000 responses it elicited from women activists, experts, academia, advocates, government organisations and people from abroad.

Justice Verma, briefing journalists, remarked: “no proposal was ignored. We collected phenomenal data and went through several judgments. People from abroad wrote on their own.” He said a sitting judge from the Canadian supreme court sent a mail on Tuesday while others from other countries – such as a former judge of high court of Australia, professors from Oxford University – also wrote to the committee. He added: “I am greatly indebted to the youth because but for them, this would not have happened. It is a novel experience for me.”

As though setting a target for the government, the former chief justice of India said: “If we were able to do work in half the time, 29 days to be precise, the government with all its might should also do its part in as much time.” The government now has to act on the recommendations of the three-member committee. It also has to submit the “Action Taken Report” to Parliament on the first day of the forthcoming budget session.

Some of the independent and government organisations which submitted the proposals include the Election Commission of India, Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Central Bureau of Investigation, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women and Child Development etc. In the preface of his voluminous report, Justice Verma said: “It is unfortunate that such a horrific gang-rape (and the subsequent death of the victim) was required to trigger the response needed for the preservation of the rule of law—the bedrock of a republic democracy.

Let us hope that this tragedy would occasion better governance, with the State taking all necessary measures to ensure a safe environment for the women in the country, thus preventing the recurrence of such sexual violence.”

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