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Par panel hears home secy on anti-rape measures

Last updated on: January 21, 2013 20:43 IST

In the wake of shocking Delhi gang-rape incident, a Parliamentary Committee is mulling recommending a slew of corrective measures, including mandatory filing of First Information Reports in cases of sexual assault and fast tracking of such cases.

Members of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs examining the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 today heard the views of Home Secretary R K Singh on the proposed measure.

During the meeting, members felt that though law and order is a state subject, they should recommend fast tracking of cases relating to sexual offences, increasing the strength of women in police forces, time-bound completion of cases related to sexual crimes and mandatory lodging of FIRs in such cases.

They felt that the recommendations would help strengthen the hands of the government.

The recommendations could form part of the report on the Bill being examined by the Committee.

Singh is understood to have informed the committee that the issues have already been taken up at the meeting of state police chiefs held recently.

The committee, headed by M Venkaiah Naidu (Bharatiya Janata Party), is learnt to have asked the Home Secretary to furnish details of the issues discussed in the meeting.

On the issue on handing down capital punishment of those convicted of rape, Singh told the panel that the opinion on the issue is split and the government was awaiting the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma committee set up to propose amendments to laws relating to crime against women.

Naidu is learnt to have asked Singh to provide the committee a copy of the Verma panel recommendations, once it is submitted to the government.

The bill to amend criminal law, introduced in the Lok Sabha last month, seeks to specify acid attack as a separate offence with minimum imprisonment of 10 years that may extend up to life term and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.

It also replaces the existing offence of rape with that of sexual assault and makes it gender neutral. The Indian Penal Code provides a punishment of minimum of seven years and a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine for the offence of rape.

It allows the court to impose a lower sentence. The Bill retains the punishment specified but takes away the power of the court to lower the sentence. The brutal gang-rape and assault of the 23-year-old girl in Delhi on December 16 sparked a wave of protests.

The victim died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.

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