Justice J S Verma Committee submits report on sexual violence
THE Justice J S Verma Committee, set up by the Government of India on December 23 in the wake of the brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a young girl in New Delhi to look into possible amendments to the Criminal Law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women, submitted its Report to the Prime Minister of India on January 23.
In view of the urgency of the task, the Committee undertook to perform the task within 30 days.
The report recommends a number of far-reaching changes including punishment for marital rape, domestic rape and rape in same-sex relationships; requiring police officers to register every case of reported rape and ensuring that those who fail to do so face serious repercussions; ensuring accountability of police or armed force personnel for sexual violence; punishing offences such as stalking and voyeurism with prison terms; changing the humiliating protocol for medical examinations experienced by rape victims; and making new legal requirement and electoral reforms to ensure that people charged with criminal offences may not hold political office.
The report of the committee and the expeditious manner in which it was completed, has earned favourable comments from various quarters.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navenetham Pillay, in a Press Statement praises the report as ‘ground-braking’ and that it can “serve as a beacon for many other countries struggling to respect the rights of women more comprehensively by addressing sexual violence through legislation, policies and programmes”.
The High Commissioner acknowledged some of the urgent steps already taken by the Government, including the establishment of fast-track courts.
The Press Statement also added that the Office of the High Commissioner stands ready to assist in any aspect of the reports’ implementation.