PTI Photo/ Shahbaz Khan
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at the press conference in New Delhi.
Penalty to be Enhanced in Rape Incidents: Shinde
Bowing to massive public protests over the gangrape of a young Delhi girl, the Central government today announced setting up of a judicial commission to go into the incident and to suggest measures for improving the safety of women and indicated that maximum penalty for rape could be enhanced to death.
Disclosing the series of steps being taken by the government as public protests mounted in the capital, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that five policemen have been suspended for negligence in the rape incident.
After a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Home Minister said the government will set up a Commission of Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 to review responses to the shocking crime and to suggest measures to improve the safety and security of women in the capital.
Amidst demand for death to rapists, Shinde said to ensure a strong law to deal with crimes of this nature, steps will be taken for the amendment of the criminal law for enhanced and more effective punishment in the rarest of the rare cases of sexual assault such as this.
To repeated questions whether enhanced punishment meant death penalty, he said that the matter involved complex legal issues.
It will be taken up with the Law Ministry and consultations will be held with the experts before government takes a decision, he said.
"We should have a deterrent punishment and we will go into it," he said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari butted in to say that people should carefully read the statement on the enhancement of punishment "in the rarest of rare cases of sexual assault such as this" and legal experts will understand the meaning of this.
Shinde ruled out convening a special session of Parliament to discuss the issue, a demand raised by Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj in her telephone call to the Prime Minister today.
"I don't think there is a need for a special session, especially only when Parliament has concluded a session couple of days ago," he said adding parties should rise above politics for meting out a stringent punishment to such criminals.
Earlier in the evening, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had talked to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister and sought appropriate action against criminals involved in the incident and ensure steps to enhanced security of women.
Announcing a four-fold strategy to ensuring safety of women in the capital and other parts, Shinde said a number of steps have recently been taken in Delhi.
These include improving the public transport system by increasing the number of buses at night and installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) on all public transport vehicles to ensure that they do not stray from their scheduled routes.
The steps also will ensure that all personnel deployed on public transport carry identification badges and are verified and proactive and enhanced patrolling will be done by police vans and motorcycles along the routes taken by families and women returning late from entertainment hubs and work places, he said.
Expressing government's extreme concern over the shocking gang rape in Delhi last Sunday, the Home Minister appealed to the protesters to have faith in the government's assurances and action to withdraw their agitation and return to their homes.
Replying to questions, he said orders have been issued for suspension of five policemen who were found to have not done their duty on the fateful night in the area where the rape occurred.
Shinde also said no senior officer will be spared if found to have derelicted duty.
Asked about the certificate of excellence given by Home Secretary R K Singh to Delhi Police yesterday and the action taken today and what has happened in between, Minister of State for Home R P N Singh said the Home Secretary had appreciated the police role in the quick investigation of the incident and the arrest of the accused.
When asked about the police laticharge on the protesters, Shinde said "I feel bad about it", but added that he will have to see the circumstances that led to it.
Following is the text of the statement issued by Shinde after meeting Manmohan Singh:
The Government is extremely concerned about the shocking occurrence of gang rape, which took place in Delhi on 16th December 2012.
All the six accused have been arrested by the police, the last one yesterday from Jharkhand. Sufficient evidence has been gathered to prosecute them and the charge sheet will be filed very shortly.
Government is requesting the Court for a speedy trial through a fast track court on a day to day basis.
Prompt action has also been taken against the transporter whose bus was used for this heinous crime. Permits for all the nine vehicles owned by this transporter have been cancelled.
The victim is being provided the best medical care. Government will do whatever is necessary for her recovery. Her condition is being monitored very closely. She has given a statement about the crime to an Executive Magistrate last night.
Government shares the widespread concern and support that has been expressed throughout society for the girl who has so suffered.
Government also respects the right of legitimate protest.
At the same time, there is need to exercise calm at this juncture and for everyone to work together to improve the safety and security environment.
On its part, Government is committed to ensuring the safety of women in the capital as well as in the rest of the country.
A number of steps have recently been taken in Delhi, including the following:-
(i) Improving the public transport system by increasing the number of buses at night.
(ii) Installation of GPS on all public transport vehicles to ensure that they do not stray from their scheduled routes.
(iii) Ensuring that all personnel deployed on public transport carry identification badges and are verified.
(iv) Proactive and enhanced patrolling by police vans/motor cycles along routes taken by families and women returning late at night from entertainment hubs and work places.
To ensure a strong law to deal with crimes of this nature, Government will take immediate steps for the amendment of the Criminal Law for enhanced and more effective punishment in the rarest of the rare cases of sexual assault such as this.
Government will set up a Commission of Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1952 to review responses to this shocking crime and to suggest measures to improve the safety and security of women in the capital.
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