Govt in no rush for Parliament session

To wait for Verma report on rape laws

Govt in no rush for Parliament session

The Centre on Monday dropped enough hints that it was in no hurry to convene a special session of Parliament to discuss the existing laws on crime against women, as demanded by the opposition parties.

Instead, it will wait for the Justice J S Verma committee to submit its report before taking a final call on the issue.  Clarifying the government’s stand, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the Verma committee was set up to review the existing laws and submit a report in one month. “We have appointed the Justice Verma committee to recommend what changes should be made in the law. Therefore, a special session of Parliament makes sense only after the government receives the report. Let us first get the report and then we can examine when the session should be held,” Chidambaram told reporters. “We have to pass a more effective law for both apprehending and punishing people and procedural aspects,” he added.

The BJP has been vocal in its demand for a special session of Parliament in the wake of the gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a moving bus here on December 16. In a condolence meet at the Delhi unit office of the BJP on Monday, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj reiterated the demand for a special session and an all-party meeting to discuss women’s safety.

Enumerating the demands, Swaraj said she had called for a special session of Parliament to discuss the scope of enhancing life term to capital punishment by amending the contemporary rape laws.

“We feel that if a murder takes place after kidnap and rape, then death penalty should be the only punishment. But my demand for special session was rejected by the home minister. Then we demanded an all-party meeting to discuss the security of women, but that was also rejected,” Swaraj said, adding that such cases should be referred to fast-track courts and disposed of within six months.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde will write to all political parties, requesting them to send their views on amending the rape laws to the Justice Verma committee in writing. A draft bill pending in Parliament will be handed over to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on home affairs, which has also taken up the Delhi gang-rape case. The committee will meet next on January 4.

Swaraj also questioned the Congress-led UPA government for urging former president Pratibha Patil to dilute death sentences awarded to five people convicted in rape-cum-murder cases. She argued that such convicts should no longer be allowed to file mercy petition. “The culprits should be hanged and the government should not accept any mercy petitions in such cases. This will be the only mark of respect to the victim,” she said. “We have decided against celebrating the New Year. But not celebrating is not enough. The year 2013 should be dedicated to women’s safety. Even if the government does not call a special session of Parliament, the Budget Session should be used for amending all laws for protecting women.”

She also criticised the government for cremating the gang-rape victim in “secrecy,” a charge which has been refuted by the Congress.

“Nothing was done without the consent of the family and their wish for privacy. They wanted it,” said Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury.

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