With the nation numbed by the barbarous Delhi gangrape, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has stepped in to make some key suggestions to the government for stricter laws on sex crimes against women and enhanced punishment to perpetrators.
"The Congress President has had detailed consultations with some senior party leaders and legal experts on how to make more effective laws regarding sex crimes against women so that more stringent punishment could be meted out swiftly to perpetrators. Certain views have been taken.
"I feel she must have given some of these suggestions to the government. My feeling is that some measure will come up incorporating these suggestions as well on the basis of the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma Committee," party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary, who had earlier raised the demand for chemical castration of rapists at a closed-door meeting with Gandhi and a group of protestors last week, made a strong pitch for maintaining a register of rape convicts, sources said.
She made the demand in a meeting of women leaders in AICC chaired by senior leader Mohsina Kidwai, which also saw some more party leaders, including MPs, suggesting capital punishment as well chemical castration for rapists.
Dwivedi refused to specify details of suggestions made to Gandhi or what the Congress President conveyed to the government.
At the AICC briefing, Chowdhary said that the Congress president has held discussions with different stakeholders and experts so that a "very strong legislation" to check such crimes can come up.
"There has been on-going discussions. Chemical castration may be just one of the options examined. May be she (Gandhi) talked to the government...All options are open to be examined," she said, evading questions whether the demand of chemical castration could be considered.
The Woman and Child Development ministry is already holding separate consultations on the issue and is likely to come up with a summary of the suggestions made in a day or two, which will be submitted to the Verma Committee.
According to sources, demands like chemical castration for rapists, imprisonment of upto 30 years and setting up separate fast-track courts to decide such cases within a 90-day time frame had come up during the consultations Gandhi has held in last three to four days with legal experts and the party leaders.
There is also a view within the party that instead of awarding capital punishment, the law should ensure that rapists get a life term and are made to work throughout their sentence period so that their income is sent to the victim's family.
Chowdhary said that a number of suggestions came up in today's meeting, which will be compiled and sent to the people concerned. WCD Minister Krishna Tirath was also supposed to attend the meeting but could not.
Chowdhary is learnt to have said in the meeting that maintaining a register of sexual offenders and making it public will be a good deterrent.
Congress, however, remained ambilent on BJP's demand for calling a special session of Parliament on the issue with Chowdhary saying that it was a matter that concerns parliamentary affairs minister.
She rejected contentions that continuing protests against the incident reflect any loss of faith in the government and said that every generation witnesses some social upheaval, which brings a change and the protests reflect that "there has been the lancing of the wound".
"It's a turning point in India's gender history," Chowdhary said, hoping that the incident will arouse the conscience of the society towards its collective responsibility.
She said that the victim in her death has "ignited a flame, which will dispel the darkness of hypocrisy and double standards of our society".