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Women organizations hail Justice Verma Panel report on women safety
Justice JS Verma committee on women safety, formed in the wake of Delhi gang rape and murder, has not recommended death penalty for the rapists, but it has instead asked for amending the present law to make the punishment harsher.

The three-member committee led by Justice Verma said that women organizations had not suggested death sentence to the rapists as the prevailing provision of capital sentence in murder cases has not yielded desired results.

“Women Organizations have to say that there should not be death penalty as it has no impact of stopping crimes. There are also discussions going on to abolish death sentence. So, we in our report have recommended imprisonment till death,” said JS Verma, as reported by NNIS.

The report which was submitted to the government Wednesday recommends that unlike the present system where a lifer is released after serving jail term for 14 years or even before that, the convict should be put into jail for the rest of his life or minimum 20 years. The panel has recommended this sentence for rape causing death or persistent vegetative state, gang rape, repeat offenders of rape, rape of an underage person followed by death or coma, trafficking by a public servant or of a minor.

The chairperson of National Commission for Women Mamta Sharma expressed satisfaction over the panel’s report. “We are absolutely satisfied with the Justice Verma's report. He has not recommended capital sentence but he has rightly recommended life imprisonment for rapists. He has accepted our suggestions word to word,” Mamta Sharma told this citizen journalist .

She added that NCW was always of the view that instead of death a rapist should be awarded life imprisonment. “We have always demanded even before this case of Damini that there should be different punishments in rape cases (depending upon the gravity of the crime). Like repeat offenders should be granted life sentence till death,” said Sharma.

All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA) has also welcomed Justice Verma's report saying it will make a substantial difference in the judiciary, the government and the executive. AIDWA's General Secretary Sudha Sundararaman expressed hope that the government will act swiftly on the panel's recommendations. She added that the nine national women groups from across the country had not asked for capital punishment to the rapists.

“We along with other women organizations had not asked for death penalty because we were of the view that if you want justice, if you want higher conviction rate, if you want more people should be answerable for their crimes against women then you will notice that death penalty will not prove that cause. Secondly, if the death penalty is invoked, then it will compromise with safety of girls. Thirdly, many organizations have been pointing out the death penalty does not act as a deterrent,” said Sudha Sundararaman.

On the issue of reducing the age bar for juveniles, Justice Verma report said that there was no need to lower the age but the need is to strengthen the juvenile justice system. Justice Verma has also criticized home secretary RK Singh for praising Delhi Police after the rape case. He said that instead of appreciation, he should have expressed sorrow as it was a shameful act.

The panel has also said that for several sexual offences, besides being awarded imprisonment, the convict should be rendered "liable to pay compensation to the victim, adequate to meet at least the medical expenses incurred by the victim".

The offences introduced by the committee include voyeurism, stalking, acid attack and, most significantly, "breach of command responsibility", which makes senior officers of the police and security forces accountable for the sexual crimes committed by their subordinates.

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