Ready to make tougher laws on rape: Centre
In Parliament, MPs condemn crimes against women, demand death for convicts
NEW DELHI: Putting ideologies aside, members of both houses of Parliament in unison condemned the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad and other such incidents in the country, and demanded swift death penalty, public lynching and castration of rape convicts even as the Centre said it was ready to amend laws to bring in stringent provisions and ensure speedy justice.
Cutting across party lines, MPs condemned the recent spurt in crime against women and demanded strict laws that punish the guilty within a fixed timeframe, three days after the charred body of the 25-year old woman, who worked as an assistant veterinarian at a state-run hospital, was found under a culvert in Shadnagar in Hyderabad on November 28. The woman was reported missing a day earlier.
Four men, all lorry workers, aged between 20 and 24, were arrested on November 29 on charges of raping and killing the woman and had been sent to judicial custody for 14 days on Saturday. The incident has triggered nationwide outrage and protests were held at several cities, including the national capital and Hyderabad, demanding stern
punishment to the culprits.
Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu suggested a rethink on allowing convicts in heinous crimes to go in for mercy appeals.
Speaking in the Upper House, Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan said the rapists should be “brought out in public and lynched.” Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) P Wilson said courts should be empowered to surgically and chemically castrate convicted rapists before they are released from jails so as to check repeat offenders.
The cost of such procedure should be recovered from the accused by selling his assets, he said, adding list of sexual offenders should also be made public.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the society will have to tackle this problem at its root and the guilty should be given stringent punishment without any discrimination on the basis of religion or caste.
Expressing grief, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said, “We in one voice” condemn such incidents.
Responding to a discussion during Zero Hour in the Lower House, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh said he was falling short of words to condemn the heinous crime. “We are ready for discussions in the House so that stringent provisions in laws could be explored to give punishment to those involved in such ghastly incidents,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister said the incident has hurt everyone. He observed that such heinous crimes were happening even after strict law were framed post the Nirbhaya incident, where a young woman was gang-raped aboard a moving bus in New Delhi in 2012 and prompted thousands of Indians to take to the streets to demand stricter rape laws.
The outrage spurred quick action on legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalising voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women.
As one member after another mentioned the ghastly crime in Parliament, Union minister G Kishan Reddy said that the government is ready to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to ensure swift justice in cases of heinous crimes like the Hyderabad rape and murder case.
The Centre had written to states and police forces over the issue, he said, adding various parties will be consulted.
Reddy said the government has come out with 112, an all-inone emergency helpline number, and has “zero tolerance” against crimes against women.
As soon as the House met for the day, Speaker Om Birla said he would allow members to raise the “serious issue” in the Zero Hour.
Terming the rape of the young veterinarian in Hyderabad as “painful” and an “inhuman” incident, Congress MP Uttam Kumar Reddy blamed the sale of liquor in Telangana for the unfortunate incident and demanded that fast track court should pronounce quick verdict and hang the convicts.
TR Baalu of the DMK raised the issue of sexual assault on a schoolgirl in Coimbatore.
Those involved in the crime should be punished, Baalu said, adding the government should come forward and ensure timebound action.
Biju Janata Dal (BJD) lawmaker Pinaki Misra questioned the delay in executing the death sentence awarded to convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case.
“At this hour we should speak in one voice,” he said.
Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule said that there should be “zero tolerance” towards such incidents. Vinayak Raut of the Shiv Sena also condemned the incident and said there was a need to bring a law in the ongoing session.
Danish Ali (Bahujan Samaj Party) said the Telangana incident has brought shame to the country.
Nama Nageswar Rao of the Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS), which is in power in Telangana, said the state government had given highest priority to cases of crime against women and noted that accused in this case were arrested within six hours.
Time has come for amending the IPC and CrPC provision suitably so that a judgment can be delivered in 30 days in such cases, he said.
Earlier, Rajya Sabha chairman Naidu rejected adjournment on the Hyderabad incident but allowed members to make brief mentions on the same and other such incidents elsewhere in the country.
As several MPs made a case for setting up more fast track courts to deal with cases of sexual assault, Naidu lamented the process of “appeal, next appeal, and next appeal”.
“What happens even after punishment is given (to convicts). We all are witness...appeal, mercy (petition)...can anybody think of having mercy on such people,” he said, observing this process has been followed for years.
“We should really think about change in legal system, in our judicial system,” he said.
“This kind of violation of dignity of women cannot go on unchallenged. It should be nipped in the bud,” he said, and added that it was already too late.
Naidu also suggested photographs of people found guilty of crime against women should be published so that there is some social stigma and fear.
“What is required is not a new bill. What is required is a political will, administrative skill and then change of mindset and go for the kill of the social evil,” he said.
Raising the issue of delay in police action in the Hyderabad incident over jurisdiction dispute between police stations, Telugu Desam Party leader Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar wanted capital punishment for rapists in public.
According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered 33,658 cases of rape in India in 2017 — an average of more than 90 every day. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t register these cases in police stations due to fear.