Rape law: Women favour speedy trial, not death sentence

Last Updated 25 January 2013, 10:27 IST

Notwithstanding the clamour for awarding capital punishment to rapists in wake of the New Delhi gangrape case, women from various sections of society are rather in favour of speedy trial in such cases and have welcomed Justice Verma panel's recommendations in this regard.

"The Justice Verma Committee's recommendations are right in view of the fact that it has recommended life sentence (whole life) to rapists in a case where the nature of crime is severe," former Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary and currently Chairperson of the Bhopal-based NGO Child Rights Observatory, Nirmala Buch, told PTI.

"The important issue is speedy trial in such cases, which is absolutely necessary to deter persons from indulging in such acts," she said.

"As far as capital punishment is concerned, the current legal process takes a lot of time in upholding death sentence, which has no meaning if it is executed ten years after the crime," Buch said.

On the issue of lowering the juvenile age from 18 to 16 years in view of such crimes, she said the issue should be dealt with carefully as many a times it has been observed that adults commit crime and shift the blame on a juvenile, knowing fully that nothing will happen to him (juvenile).

Endorsing Justice Verma panel's recommendations on not awarding death sentence to rapists, Barkatullah University's Sociology Department's Reader Ruchi Ghosh Dastidar said, "A lot of feminists are against awarding capital punishment in rape cases as its repercussions are different in rural and urban areas."

The reasons behind rape are different in urban and rural areas. And if death penalty is imposed in all cases, then it won't serve the required purpose and rather increase problems for the victim, Ruchi said.

"We need strict laws but what is more important is their speedy implementation, specially fast justice and filing of FIRs in police stations in such cases for checking crime," she said.

As far as lowering of juvenile age is concerned, Ruchi said if at all it needs to be lowered, then there should be a uniformity in all its forms, like for labour, voting and also in financial matters.

Terming the recommendations as "quite practical," Madhya Pradesh women Congress unit's former president Shobha Ojha said, "I have discussed this issue with a group of nearly 300 women and asked them to fill a questionnaire on whether they are in favour of awarding capital punishment to a rapist or not?"

"Majority of them did not favour capital punishment to the rapists out of fear that if this provision is included in the law, then those indulging in such crimes will kill the victim to wipe out evidences against them," Shobha said.

"Instead, we should have a fast trial in such cases so that justice is done to the victim in a time-bound manner," she said.

However, referring to Delhi gang-rape case, Shobha said with the kind of brutality involved, the accused should be hanged, but it should not be generalised in all rape cases.

Also, Ojha favoured lowering the juvenile age saying that because of the exposure that a teenager gets these days through television, social media and life style, he or she becomes mature at an early age.

Despite majority of the women not in favour of death penalty for rapists, Madhya Pradesh Women and Child Development Minister Ranjana Baghel expressed different views. "If capital punishment is not awarded in rape cases, then how you can check the growing menace in the society," she said.

(Published 25 January 2013, 10:27 IST)

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