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Verma Committee Refrains from Prescribing Death Penalty


Making far reaching recommendations, the Justice Verma Committee favoured comprehensive amendments to criminal laws seeking minimum 20 years imprisonment for gang rape and life term for rape and murder but refrained from prescribing death penalty.




Making far reaching recommendations, the Justice Verma Committee favoured comprehensive amendments to criminal laws seeking minimum 20 years imprisonment for gang rape and life term for rape and murder but refrained from prescribing death penalty.

However, the three-member Committee headed by former Chief Justice J S Verma, which was constituted in the wake of the nationwide outrage over the 16th December gang rape of a girl in Delhi, is not in favour of reducing the age of juveniles under the law.

Nor did the Committee favour chemical castration of rapists saying the Constitution of India does not permit mutilation of a human body.

In its 630-page report to the government submitted on Wednesday, the Committee has suggested amendment of 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 rape and leaving the victim in a vegetative state.

They include disrobing a woman, voyeurism, stalking and trafficking. Sexual misconduct also includes intentional touching, spoken words and gestures made as advances.

The present law provides for punishment of rapists imprisonment ranging from seven years to life in jail. For the first time, the minimum punishment is sought to be raised to 20 years in some cases.

The panel's view on juvenile's age assumed significance in the context of strong demands for lowering the age from 18 to 16 against the backdrop of the allegation that one of the six accused is said to be a juvenile.

The Committee, comprising a former High Court Chief Justice Leila Seth and jurist Gopal Subramanium, also traversed various areas in a bid to check crimes against women seeking disqualification of MPs and MLAs charged with heinous crimes like rape, measures to check khap panchayats and trial of personnel of security forces under ordinary criminal laws and not under AFSPA.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, Justice Verma came down heavily on Union Home Secretary R K Singh for praising Delhi Police Commissioner after the Delhi gang rape instead of coming out with an apology.

It also attacked police for the lathicharge on young demonstrators in the capital last month which it said had scarred democracy.

Releasing the report, Justice Verma told a news conference that the Committee has not suggested death penalty for rapist because there was overwhelming suggestions from the women organisations against it, a point that was received with thunderous applause from activists at the media interaction.

The Committee did not recommend death penalty for rape because it was a "regressive step" and it "may not have a deterrent effect".

"We have not recommended death penalty as we had overwhelming suggestions against it. The women groups unanimously were against death penalty and that is why we thought that is a strong reason to respect that view particularly in view of the modern trend also," Justice Verma said.

Even while it recommended amendments to various laws and enhancement of punishment, the panel concluded that existing laws if faithfully and efficiently implemented by credible law enforcement agencies or sufficient to protect the safety and dignity of people particularly of women and punish offenders.

"This is not to suggest that the necessary improvements in law, keeping in mind modern times, should not be enacted at the earliest," it said.

The Committee also said speedy justice was necessary for right to life with dignity and recommended that systemic changes could reduce burden of arrears in courts.

The judge strength can be increased in phases while retired eminent retired judges could be appointed on adhoc basis.

Among the amendments proposed is a change in Section 100 of the IPC dealing with right of private defence which extends to causing death.

Taking note of the brutality committed in the Delhi gang rape incident, the Committee suggested replacement of Section 375 defining rape by defining specific unnatural acts.

Intentional touching will constitute the offence of sexual assault for which punishment will be a maximum of five years rigorous imprisonment or fine or both.

Use of words, gestures which create an unwelcome threat of sexual nature or advance would invite a maximum punishment of one year imprisonment or fine or both.

Causing grievous hurt through use of acid on women shall also be punished with rigorous imprisonment for not less than 10 years but could go upto life.

The Committee said the Delhi gang rape incident has disclosed the failure of many public functionaries responsible for traffic regulation, maintenance of law and order and more importantly, their low and skewed priority of dealing with complaints of sexual assault.

Disputes relating to the jurisdiction of the police over the area of the crime are often a cause of delay in initiating the process of taking cognisance of the crime and providing medical aid to the victim.

The panel said the peculiarity of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi not having any control over the police force, which control vests only in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the reason given publicly by the Delhi Chief Minister for the absence of responsibility of her government.

"This ambiguity must be removed forthwith so that there is no divided responsibility in Delhi in respect of maintenance of law and order. Such a step is also essential to maintain accountability," it said.

The Committee also took note of the apathy of civil society and mentioned about the inaction of passers-by and bystanders, who failed in their citizenship duty of rendering help to the Delhi gang rape victim and her companion who were lying badly injured and disrobed on the roadside for a considerable amount of time.

"Misbehaviour of the police towards any samaritan is often the cause for such apathy. Bust this must not deter citizens from doing their duty. A change in the behaviour of the citizenry will also improve the conduct of the police. This effort must be promoted," it said.

League India Democracy Desk

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On an Apology Seeking Spree, Kejriwal Now Apologises to Gadkari

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari expressing regret over certain statements he made against the BJP leader.



Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia have gone on an apology spree.

After tendering an apology to Punjab leader Bikram Singh Majithia, they have tendered an apology to advocate Amit Sibal, son of former Union Minister Kapil Sibal and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in a criminal defamation case filed by them.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also wrote to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari expressing regret over certain statements he made against the BJP leader.

Kejriwal and Gadkari also submitted a joint application today before the court seeking withdrawal of the defamation case filed against the AAP leader.

Kejriwal and Sisodia apologised for making unfounded allegations against Sibal in a letter which was submitted before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal.

Sibal and the AAP leaders also filed a joint application in the court seeking withdrawal of the case filed in 2013.

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Karnataka’s Cong Government Seeks Separate Religion Status for Lingayats

Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah-led Congress government has decided to recognise Lingayats as an independent religion and seek approval from the Centre for the same. 



Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah-led Congress government has decided to recognise Lingayats as an independent religion (from Hinduism) and seek approval from the Centre for the same. The decision was taken after a cabinet meeting and consultation with Lingayat seers.

The Cabinet took the decision to accept recommendations of the Justice Nagamohan Das Committee, which had asked the state to accord a separate religion tag to the Lingayats.

If recognised as a minority religion, the Lingayats will be able to avail of benefits under Section 25, 28, 29 and 30 of the Constitution.

What makes the timing of the move particularly suspicious is that Karnataka is just about two months away from elections and Lingayats, who currently form 17% of Karnataka’s population, is a major vote bank for political parties.

In the recent decades, the Lingayats have emerged as strong supporters of the BJP. Experts suggest that if a separate religious status is granted to the community, the BJP will have a tough time explaining its ideological stance based on Hindu solidarity. Former Chief Minister and current CM candidate of the BJP, BS Yeddyurappa, is also from the Lingayat community.

The Congress, predictably, hopes to gain much from the desired branching.

The agitation is not a new one – and has forever revolved around a single core question viz., who are the Lingayats and what precisely is their religious identity?

Who are the Lingayats:

The tradition of Lingayatism is known to have been founded by social reformer and philosopher Basavanna in 12th century Karnataka. While there exists a debate around whether Basavanna founded the sect or if he merely reformed an existing order, there can be no doubt that under him the community acquired the form of a well-organised, structured mass movement. Followers of the sect continue to revere him as the founder and prime philosopher of their religion.

Social reformer and philosopher Basavanna (Wikimedia Commons)

Basava grew up in a Brahmin family with a tradition of Shaivism. As a leader, he developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, or “ardent, heroic worshippers of Shiva”. This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement, particularly the Shaiva Nayanars traditions, over the 7th- to 11th-century.

Basavanna’s vision of a societal order was one based on human freedom, equality, rationality, and brotherhood. He and his followers spread their ideas through vachanas (prose-lyrics) and their prime target was the caste hierarchy which they rejected with full force. In one of his vachanas, Basavanna asserts that “the birthless has no caste distinctions, no ritual pollution.”

Lingayat sect first emerged within the larger trend of Bhakti movements that had swept across South India from the 8th century AD onwards.

The Bhakti tradition was a social reform movement that took birth within Hinduism but strove to rectify what the followers saw as the unjust practices within the tradition.

But, historians like K Ishrawaran say that while the conventional Bhakti movements remained adjacent to the Hindu system, Lingayatism challenged the system in its most basic form and became a highly structured movement.

Other historians say that the most striking feature of this institutionalisation was that unlike other Bhakti movements, Lingayat status was hereditary in nature!

The desired differences aside, however, the one aspect that indicates the association of Lingayatism with Hinduism is the former’s relationship with Veerashaivism.

Veerashaivism is also a Shaiva sect within Hinduism and is predominantly located in Karnataka. It’s supporters claim that Basavanna was not the founder of the Lingayat tradition, but rather a reformer of an already existing religious tradition called Veerashaivism.

The Veerashaivas accept the Vedic texts and almost all Hindu practices.

Moreover, despite insisting upon the contrary, Lingayatism, quite like Jainism, does assimilate many aspects of Hinduism that are influenced by or drawn from the Upanishads and the Vedic traditions.

The close associations that the Lingayat followers share with Hinduism, both sociologically and historically, thus make it a complicated case of to be or not be Hindu.

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‘Citizen Services’ App Launched to Link Citizens with Police

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 33rd Inception Day and released “Citizen Services” Mobile App.



The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 33rd Inception Day and released “Citizen Services” Mobile App.

The App is a bouquet of 9 police related services, for the citizen.  These services will provide a smooth interface between citizens and police. States/UTs upon customization can host this App on their CCTNS platform through which citizens can register police complaint, and can check the Status of their complaint.

Another feature of the App also enables a complainant to download FIR (except those categorized as “Sensitive”).

Clicking SOS button on the App automatically sends an emergency SMS to friends and family with user’s current location. Locate Police Station feature helps a citizen to locate nearby police station details and route to approach using GPS technology.

Emergency Contact List provides helpline numbers, which are useful during an emergency or regular services like Fire Brigade, Ambulance, Medical Emergency, Women Helpline, Railway Helpline and Child Helpline.

Any citizen can anonymously inform Police about any suspicious/anti-social activities using Citizen Tip feature. Using Telephone Directory feature, Citizen can view detail of any police station in a district for particular State.

Vahan Samanvay stolen vehicle Registration feature is helpful to the public, Road Transport Authorities, and Insurance agencies, to verify the status of stolen/recovered vehicles, before purchase, re-registration, claim settlement etc.

Talash/ Missing Person (Lost person Registration) a web link in the App to provide a link to NCRB website displaying missing persons/ unidentified dead bodies and unidentified persons.

The App is developed by an in-house team of NCRB and as per the compliance of MeitY directions, the Mobile App was tested & certified by CERT-In empanelled Company. The App is being released to States/UTs for utilization at field levels.

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