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Verma Committee For Harsher Punishments; No Death For Rape

JANUARY 24, 2013

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Reflecting the sense of mass outrage over the Delhi gang rape, the Justice J S Verma Committee, in its report, has recommended harsher punishment for sexual offences even as it ignored the demand for death penalty for rapists. The committee has saluted the spirit shown by the youth during the protests in New Delhi and condemned the police cane charge on them.


The report proposes a stringent alternative to the life sentence. Unlike the existing life sentence of 14 years, the Verma Committee's alternative would legally bar his release for 20 years or for "the rest of his life".


This new 'long life' or 'whole life' sentence has been recommended for cases of grave sexual assault: rape causing death or permanent vegetative state, gang rape, repeat rape offenders, rape of a minor followed by death or coma, trafficking by a public servant or of a minor.


Besides, the committee has proposed that apart from punishment, the convict should be made to compensate the victim to let her cover the medical expenses.



The new offences included in the definition of sexual assault by the committee, are voyeurism (Peeping Toms), stalking, acid attack and "breach of command responsibility", which makes senior police and security officers accountable for such crimes committed by their subordinates.


It has also suggested, effectively, an introduction of the concept of marital rape in India. The committee has also asked for the removal of the archaic expression: "outraging the modesty" of a woman. The popular demand for lowering the cut off age for juveniles from 18 years to 16 years has been rejected by the committee. The committee also rejected the demand for a death penalty for rapists.



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