Cabinet Clears Death For Rapists In Rare Cases

Approves ordinance on crimes against women Word ‘rape’ to be replaced by ‘sexual assault’

NEW DELHI (TIP): The UnionCabinet on February 1 approved thepromulgation of an ordinance thatintroduces tougher jail terms forcrimes against women, includingdeath penalty for extreme cases ofsexual assault.The Cabinet meeting chaired byPrime Minister Manmohan Singhdiscussed the Justice VermaCommittee report, whichrecommended a series of measures tomake crime against women laws morestringent. The three-member panelwas set up after national outrage overthe gang-rape and brutal assault of a23-year-old trainee physiotherapist ina moving bus in the National Capitalon the night of December 16.With the Cabinet approving theordinance, the government will nothave to wait for the budget session ofParliament to commence on February21 to amend the law.

Though theordinance will allow changes in law, itwill have to be passed in Parliament.Once the budget session starts, thegovernment will have to table a Bill toreplace the ordinance.The ordinance could bepromulgated over the weekend,sources said. It would have to beapproved by the President before itbecomes a law.The Cabinet has recommendedinclusion of death sentence or a jailterm spanning the convict’s lifetime inextreme cases. The severity of thecrime in order to categorise it as an“extreme case” will be detailed in theordinance. It may include cases werethere may be bodily harm to thevictim that left her in a vegetativestate or seriously injured.Other cases of rape will attract aprison term of up to 20 years.

Theword ‘rape’ will be replaced by theword ‘sexual assault’. However, thegovernment has omitted arecommendation by the Justice JSVerma committee to make maritalrape a part of sexual assault.Stalking a woman, acid attacks,trafficking and harassment at workplace will be covered under sexualassault, as per the tonight’s decision,and attract graded punishments. Tillnow, stalking, acid attacks andtrafficking were not defined undersexual attacks. Thousands of womenare stalked daily across the countryand incidents of acid attack arereported frequently.The Justice Verma panel suggestedradical changes in rape laws in its 630-page report submitted in 29 days.Despite demands to include deathpenalty for convicted rapists, it didnot recommend capital punishment,saying that even women fighting onthe issue for years were against it. Ithad received over 80,000 suggestionsfrom all over the country on change inlaws.

Sweeping changes
The Cabinet has recommendedinclusion of death sentence or a jailterm spanning the convict’s lifetime inextreme cases; other cases of rape willattract a prison term of up to 20 yearsThe severity of the crime in orderto categorise it as an “extreme case”to be detailed in the ordinanceStalking a woman, acid attacks,trafficking and harassment at workplace to be covered under sexualassault and attract gradedpunishmentRecommendation to make maritalrape a part of sexual assault omitted.

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Victim’s kin want to meet Sonia
The family of the Delhi gangrapevictim has sought an appointmentwith UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhito apprise her of their woes anddemands.The father of the girl said hehas sought an appointment with SoniaGandhi.

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