The Union Cabinet will have a special meeting on Friday evening to discuss the Justice Verma Committee report, which has recommended a series of measures to make crime against women laws more stringent.
The meeting, to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has been convened amid speculation that the government was contemplating bringing an ordinance on the issue.
The three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma, was set up in the wake of rape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi on December 16 and it submitted a voluminous 630-page report on January 23. It recommended enhancement of punishment to upto 20 years imprisonment for rape and murder and life term for gang rape but refrained from suggesting death penalty to the guilty.
It suggested various amendments to the criminal laws to provide for higher punishment to rapists, including those belonging to police and public servants.
New offences have been created and stiffer punishment has been suggested for those committing such offence that left the victim in a vegetative state. The new offences include disrobing a woman, voyeurism, stalking and trafficking.
The present statute provides for punishment of imprisonment ranging from seven years to life for rapists.
Two days back, Dr Singh promised prompt action on the recommendations of the Committee.
"On behalf of our government, I assure you that we will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the committee," the PM said in his letter to Justice Verma.
Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said recently that the Cabinet will deliberate upon the report and depending upon its view, "The matter will then have to be carried through the normal parliamentary processes. We hope to be able to take some action during the Budget session of Parliament."