New Delhi: The three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India JS Verma, appointed to suggest strict anti-rape laws, on Wednesday submitted its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The committee recommended enhancing punishment of upto 20 years imprisonment for rape and murder and life for gang rape but refrained from suggesting death penalty.

Speaking to reporters, Justice Verma said he was impressed by the spontaneous response of the youth to December 16 gang rape incident.

Justice Verma also added that he received 80,000 suggestions from India and abroad after he set January 5 as a deadline for comments from jurists, women's groups and other forums to revamp existing legislation to deal with sex offenders.

“We received at least 80,000 recommendations on anti-rape laws. This is just the beginning of the change,” Justice Verma said.

“Many recommendations made on women’s safety in past have not yet been implemented. Hope that the report will be taken seriously in the next Parliament session,” Justice Verma added when asked to comment on previous recommendations.

The committee, formed in the aftermath of the horrific December 16 gang rape incident, was assigned to give recommendations on amending laws to provide speedier justice to rape victims. The 23-year-old victim was gang raped and assaulted in a moving bus by six persons on December 16. She succumbed to injuries on December 29, 2012 in the multi-specialty Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

The panel is of the opinion that the age of the juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act need not be lowered from the present 18.

Salient features of Verma panel report
  • 20 years imprisonment for rape and murder and life for gang rape
  • Juvenile age under the Juvenile Justice Act need not be lowered from the present 18
  • Verma Committee recommends appointment of Special Commissioners with adequate powers to redress complaints of sexual violence against women
  • Every district magistrate should prepare census of missing children
  • Imminent need to review AFSPA in conflict areas
  • Sensitivity needed on the part of those who implement the laws
  • Verma committee also dealt with incidents of marital rape
  • Delhi gang rape case shows the failures of traffic regulations, maintenance of law and order and dealing of sexual assault cases
  • First step is to stop eve-teasing or sexual harassment and stalking from society
  • Shocked to see Union Home Secretary was patting the back of Delhi Police Chief
  • Police action on peaceful protestors scarred Indian democracy

Justice Verma said that the first step is to stop eve-teasing or sexual harassment and stalking from society. "It is a serious matter... these practices are tolerated by the society. We need to first deal with the first step as it graduates to sexual assault," he told reporters.

He said he was "struck by the peaceful manner" in which the youth rose to protest the brutal attack on the 23-year-old girl, who was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus.

"It was a spontaneous show of the youth. It was a humbling experience... the youth taught us, the older generation. This is the real hope and the brightest aspect of this entire exercise," said Justice Verma.

The Verma panel had also taken the cognizance of suggestions from the public, several NGOs and political outfits. The Congress and the BJP have also sent their views to the committee.

The other two members of the committee were Justice (Retd.) Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court and Gopal Subramanian, former Solicitor General of India.

(JPN/Agencies)

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