The government has brought in an ordinance to introduce stricter penalties for crimes against women, including death in extreme cases, but ignored the Justice JS Verma commission's recommendations on criminalising marital rape and reviewing controversial sections of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
The ordinance introduced yesterday is also silent on the recommendation to bar politicians facing charges of sexual offences from contesting elections. (Read: Ordinance vs Verma commission recommendations)
The Justice Verma commission had suggested that marital rape should be made an offence, a key demand of women's rights activists. It also observed that sexual violence was being legitimised under AFSPA and suggested that such crimes by members of the armed forces be tried under ordinary criminal law.
The ordinance incorporates some but not all recommendations of the commission, a panel of three legal experts appointed in the wake of fierce street protests after the gang-rape of a medical student in Delhi last month.
The Justice Verma commission is against death penalty in rape cases and recommends a maximum punishment of life in jail. But the government has favoured capital punishment in rare cases.
"Women's security is the government's priority. We have introduced the
ordinance within eight days of the Justice Verma committee submitting
its report," said RPN Singh, Minister of State for Home.
The ordinance will come into effect as soon as the President signs it. Parliament has to pass it within six months. The Verma commission put together its report in just 29 days. Justice Verma had urged the government to match his team's commitment by implementing the changes urgently.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister sent him a letter stating, "On behalf of our government, I assure you that we will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the committee."
Five men arrested for the fatal gang-rape are being tried at a fast-track court in Delhi. A sixth, who has been declared a minor, will be tried separately by a juvenile court.