Panel rejects death penalty for rape cases, slams police

NEW DELHI Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:43pm IST

Students hold candles as they pray during a candlelight vigil for a gang rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi, in Ahmedabad December 31, 2012. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

Students hold candles as they pray during a candlelight vigil for a gang rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi, in Ahmedabad December 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave/Files

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India needs to implement existing laws, not introduce tougher punishment such as the death penalty, to prevent rape, a government panel set up to review legislation said on Wednesday, following a brutal gang rape that shook the nation.

Panel head, justice J.S. Verma, rejected outright the idea of the death penalty for rape cases, a demand from some protesters and politicians in the days after the 23-year-old physiotherapy student was attacked on a moving bus.

"There was an overwhelming opinion against the death penalty, even women's groups opposed this," Verma told a news conference. This recommendation was in line with the opinions of rights organisations concerned harsh new laws would not solve the rising number of reported sexual assault cases in India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked Verma to look at possible amendments of criminal law in response to public anger after the rape and subsequent death of the student, who was assaulted with metal bars and dumped bleeding on a highway.

In that case, because the woman died of her injuries, the five accused have been charged with murder and face the death penalty if found guilty. The victim died of massive organ damage in a Singapore hospital two weeks after the attack.

Hearings in the case against the accused begin in a fast track sessions court on Thursday. The court must decide which of the prosecution's charges it will hear before a trial formally begins.

Separately, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition to move the case out of Delhi, after one of the accused said strong public opinion in the city would prejudice the case.

Verma said he was shocked to hear top government officials congratulate the Delhi police chief's handling of the case, when, he said, police negligence was to blame for a climate of insecurity in New Delhi, known as India's "rape capital."

"Practically every serious breach of the rule of law can be traced to the failure of performance by the persons responsible for its implementation," the recommendations submitted to the government by Verma on Wednesday stated.

The report said the failure of public functionaries responsible for traffic regulation and law and order enabled the Delhi gang rape, and said the case had revealed "officials' low and skewed priority of dealing with complaints of sexual assault".

He also rejected lowering the age juveniles can be tried as adults, a demand from some politicians and protesters. A sixth accused in the case has told police he is under 18, meaning he would face a maximum three year sentence if found guilty.

The panel did recommend other milder forms of sexual harassment be more strictly legislated against and punished.

"Sexual assault degenerates to its gravest form of rape beginning with uncontrolled sexual harassment in milder forms, which remain uncontrolled. It has, therefore to be curbed at the initial stage."

(Reporting By Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Ron Popeski)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Election 2014

Election 2014

Promises and more promises: India’s parties pitch their visions.  Full Article | Full Coverage 

India Markets

India Markets

Sensex slumps 207 points, at 2-1/2 week closing low.  Full Article 

Telecom Sector

Telecom Sector

RComm to raise mobile call tariff by up to 20 percent  Full Article 

Chinese Economy

Chinese Economy

China economic growth slows to 18-month low in first quarter  Full Article 

New Direction

New Direction

CEO Nadella pushes data culture at Microsoft.  Full Article 

Bitcoin ATM

Bitcoin ATM

China gets first bitcoin ATM, skirting bank crackdown.  Full Article 

Strong Sales Volume

Strong Sales Volume

Small is beautiful for Coca-Cola as volumes soar in China  Full Article 

Breakingviews

Breakingviews

Diageo throws money at Indian empire-building  Full Article 

Toyota's Performance

Toyota's Performance

After two bumper years, Toyota braces for shift to slower growth.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage