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Indian states back tougher laws on rape
Publication Date : 05-01-2013
India's central and state governments yesterday failed to reach a consensus on death penalty for rape convicts even as they seem to have agreed on the definition of “juvenile” by bringing down the age bar to 16 from 18 years.
The day-long meeting of chief secretaries and DGPs (director general of police), convened by the centre in the wake of the gangrape of a girl in Delhi, discussed threadbare various ways to check crimes against women and agreed to take steps for protection of women and initiating speedy trial and conviction of criminals.
“There is no consensus on amending the law to include capital punishment for rape. One or two chief secretaries have suggested it but the majority kept mum on the issue,” said a senior officer who attended the meeting.
Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said all suggestions, including death penalty for rape, put forward by the chief secretaries and DGPs would be considered by the central government. The representatives of state governments and top home ministry officials said rape convicts should be sentenced to life till death without any leniency or without parole.
There was a general consensus on the definition of juvenile by bringing the age bar to 16 from 18 years in the conference.
One of the six accused in the Delhi gang rape case was juvenile and many people fear that he may escape punishment for the crime because of his juvenile status.
Shinde, at the meet, expressed concern over low rate of conviction in cases of crimes against women saying there was a need for introspection by investigators, prosecution and all others concerned.
He said legislations were only one part of the solution and the main difficulty lies at the implementation level where sometimes ground realities become a barrier for effective enforcement of the law. “Our primary objective is to identify such barriers, suggest modifications required in our law and in the procedures and methodology of investigation so that the trial concludes early and the guilty is punished in a time-bound manner,” he said.
Shinde also told reporters said he told the chief secretaries and DGPs to be very strict in cases of sexual harassment and atrocities on SCs and STs and intensify vigil through various ways, including motorcycle patrolling. He also asked state governments to increase the strength of women police officers and deploy them in police stations to curb crimes against women.