Shinde writing to parties for views on changing rape law

In the wake of the gruesome gangrape of a 23-year-old girl here, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is writing letters to all political parties seeking their suggestions on the issue of changing the law pertaining to rape.

Sources said Shinde will ask the political parties to send their suggestions on the matter to the Justice J S Verma Committee, which has been constituted for reviewing the present statute so as to provide for speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault.

The move comes in the midst of the main opposition’s demand for convening an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.

The Verma Committee has sought suggestions from individuals, NGOs, women’s groups and others by the first week of January. The panel, set up by the government on December 23, has been given 30 days to submit its report.

The committee will look into possible amendments to the criminal law to provide quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women.

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

Under the existing law, the maximum punishment for rape is life term but the nationwide outrage over the December 16 gangrape of the physiotherapy student in a moving bus here has sparked a demand for death penalty to rapists. The girl breathed her last on Saturday in a Singapore hospital.

BJP has also favoured death for perpetrators of such heinous crimes and demanded a special session of Parliament for amending the law.