State's duty to provide safe environment to women, says Justice JS Verma: Highlights

State's duty to provide safe environment to women, says Justice JS Verma: Highlights
New Delhi A commission to look at India's laws for sexual crimes after a medical student's gang-rape in Delhi last month has submitted its report to the Home Ministry. Former chief justice of India JS Verma, who headed the commission, addressed the media today. Highlights:

  • Much to learn from the youth, not possible to name everyone who contributed.
  • Young people are the real hope. They have taught the older generation.
  • It was the young men who were conscious that this gender inequality has to be done away with.
  • Even when there was provocation, they did not react and continued to maintain calm.
  • It was humbling experience for all of us who are of an older generation.
  • The kind of satisfaction I have had in being involved in this exercise is not matched by anything else.
  • Acknowledge some people from foreign countries who volunteered and helped. I myself can't believe how this was possible and done in 29 days. (Names professors from Oxford, Harvard etc who worked on this, including CJ of Canadian Supreme Court, Australian Judges) 
  • The entire office of former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium turned into an office for the committee. He did not spend a single minute in carrying on with his normal professional duties.
  • Data collected was phenomenal; we had over 80,000 responses.
  • The committee engaged in in-depth global research, analysed past judgments and public policies.
  • The constitution of this committee is in response to the peaceful countrywide outcry by the youth.
  • The committee hopes the urgency shown by the government is setting up this panel will not go in vain with time.
  • The urgency of the matter impelled the committee to finish the task within the timeframe.
  • We hope the Parliament will take the legislative suggestions given by the committee. If we could  accomplish what we did in 30 days, the govt should be able to do the same.
  • We marvel at the extensive research done to collect extensive material in such a short span of time. Women, gender and social groups came forward with valuable suggestions.
  • The measures already taken show that with existing laws how much more can be done and could have been done.
  • Societal deficiency has to be overcome by the leaders of society by changes in education, etc.
  • Failure of good governance is the root cause of such incidents.
  • Workmen should improve work culture without complaining about the tools - mere additions to the statute book will not help.
  • The committee concluded with fervent hope that the urgency with which it was constituted does not fade with the submission of the report.
  • Positive response to the tragedy which triggered the government to take up this task will be the tribute to the victim.
  • Merely addressing the end stage of rape is not enough. We have to address from the initial stages to protect women from sexual harassment.
  • Rape, sexual assault, eve-teasing and stalking are matters of serious concern, which are being tolerated by the society.
  • It is not only the state's responsibility, it is the fundamental responsibility of every citizen of India. That is why we have gone into issues like child labour and trafficking.
  • The right to be protected from sexual harassment and assault is guaranteed by the Constitution - buttressed by directive principles of state policy.
  • Duty of the state is to provide a safe environment to women and failure to do this renders it accountable.
  • States' role is not just to punish criminals but to prevent crimes against women.
  • The state is responsible for any inaction that may cause or violate human rights. (Refers to need for police reforms)
  • In the absence of faithful implementation of laws, the laws remain mere rhetoric.
  • The least I would have done was to seek an apology for failure to protect citizens whose safety was entrusted to me.
  • What is needed is sensitivity. It is most important.
  • The mechanism of law enforcement has to be supported by the civil society.
  • Equally shocking was that large number of people passed by and no one offered help (the medical student).
  • Total apathy of everyone who had a duty to perform.
  • I was shocked to see the Delhi police commissioner getting a pat on his back by the Home Secretary.
  • Got lukewarm responses from some behind setting up of the committee. Got no response from DGPs.
  • Achieving equality of women has to be a joint effort of the individual and the state.
  • The actions of those in authority have been in conflict with constitutional theory.
  • More effective control of subordinate judiciary by high courts.
  • Police reforms that are recommended must for preservation of rule of law.
  • Law enforcement agencies must not become tools in the hands of political masters.
  • Delay in giving necessary medical aid - even private practitioner has a duty to perform.
  • The peculiarity of government of NCR, Delhi is the reason given publically by the chief minister for the absence of responsibility - this ambiguity must be removed forthwith.
  • The nation has to account for tears of women and other people from marginalised sections who have suffered due to apathy.
  • The patriarchal civil society is evident. Denial of political right to women will cast a shadow on India's democracy.
  • Khap panchayat's don't have the sanction of law.
  • Every complaint of rape should be registered - most are not reported and those reported may not be recorded.
  • Any officer who fails to record commits a crime punishable as prescribed.
  • Special measures for protecting persons with disabilities from rape.
  • Protocols for medical examination - after the crime the victims suffer further humiliation...
  • A protocol has been prepared - which we expect if uniformly implemented will make a difference.
  • Insensitivity of police is well known - the Supreme Court judgements alone indicate what is the actual position.
  • The process has begun, the pressure must be kept up.
  • Delhi gang-rape case shows failures of traffic regulations, maintenance of law and order and dealing of sexual assault cases.
  • Lathicharge on protesters scarred Indian democracy.
  • All marriages should be registered. Magistrate should ensure no dowry is paid.
  • Government apathy towards missing children has to be shaken off.
  • The judiciary has the primary responsibility of ensuring fundamental rights through constitutional remedies.
  • The Chief Justice of India can take suo motu cognizance, social activists should assist the court... 
  • Juvenile homes not being run in the spirit envisaged in the Juvenile Justice Act.
  • What is needed is a mechanism for the running of these homes... have become breeding grounds of all sorts of sex crimes.
  • Dark deeds are done in dark spaces - don't have dark spaces.
  • Make journey in public transport safer, especially for women.
  • In education, ensure non-discrimination for women and children. Education is the most potent tool of human development.
  • At present politicians are disqualified if there is conviction; what we have recommended is once cognizance is taken by the court, you don't have to wait for the trial to end.
  • For the purpose of honouring institutional integrity, we have also urged MPs, MLAs to voluntarily vacate office to honour the constitution (Cites example of Andhra Pradesh minister - recommended dismissal)
  • If persons with criminal backgrounds are enacting laws... Well, I don't need to complete the sentence.
  • Unless these recommendations are urgently implemented, it will end the exercise of the committee in futility.

Justice Leila Seth

  • Socio-economic conditions impede women's access to justice. In a 1992 case, judge held upper caste men don't rape Dalit women.
  • How can Khap panchayats rule against marriages made of free choice?
  • When a woman belongs to weaker section, she has the twin disadvantage of being a woman and economically disadvantaged.

Gopal Subarmanium, Senior Advocate


  • This report deals with the construct of gender justice in India and the various obstructions there are.
  • Important issue - the manner in which any law relating to rape must deal with people.
  • Must also understand different sexual orientations...
  • Article 15C uses the word sex as 'sexual orientation.'
  • We have also gone into various international covenants that deal with human rights - and how the state needs to act as parents.
  • We have also looked at physical sexual and psychological violence in the family - including marital rape.
  • Failure to frame a domestic law which fails to deal with violence against women with constitute a breach of international covenant.
  • We notice the impunity of systematic sexual violence is being legitimised by the armed forces special powers act.
  • Strong measures to ensure security and dignity of women in conflict areas would go a long way.
  • Sexual violence by personnel in uniform must be brought under common law.
  • General laws related to detention of women during regular hours must be strictly followed.
  • Imminent need to review the continuance of AFSPA in areas as soon as possible.
  • Trafficking of minor children must be made a serious offence.
  • If any police officer, public servant is found trafficking a child there would be a stricter sentence against him.
  • More effective control of subordinate judiciary by high courts.
  • Police reforms that are recommended must for preservation of rule of law.
  • Law enforcement agencies must not become tools in the hands of political masters.
  • Verma Committee recommends appointment of Special Commissioners with adequate powers to redress complaints of sexual violence against women in conflict areas.
Story First Published: January 23, 2013 15:12 IST

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