Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that the government will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the J S Verma Committee to amend the law to deal effectively with cases of sexual assault against women.
In a letter to Justice Verma, the former chief justice of India, Dr Singh thanked him and other two members of the Committee -- Justice (retired) Leila Seth and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian -- for completing within a short period of 30 days the work of the panel, set up in the wake of the brutal gang rape and assault of a 23-year-old student in Delhi on December 16.
"That the Committee submitted its report within a short period of 30 days is testimony to your commitment and concern for the public good. On behalf of our government, I assure you that we will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the Committee," the prime minister said in the letter.
Dr Singh also thanked the Committee members for their ‘labour of love’ in pursuing their job to recommend amendments to the law to deal effectively with cases of sexual assault of extreme nature against women.
The Verma Committee has recommended enhancing punishment to up to 20 years imprisonment for rape and murder and life term for gang rape, but refrained from suggesting death penalty to the guilty.
In its 630-page report submitted to the government on January 23, the Committee suggested various amendments to 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 an offence that leaves 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. The panel was constituted in the wake of national outrage over the gang rape of the student in a moving bus in south Delhi.
The victim died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.