Govt mulls ordinance to push Verma report to protect women


Among the important recommendations of the Verma committee the government is inclined to accept is to make voyeurism, stalking and intentional touching of a girl or woman with sexual intent a penal offence. Section 509 of the Indian Panel Code is being amended to define these new crimes against women.

The government has also decided to accept the Verma panel recommendation to keep rape gender-specific (only women) and amend Section 354 of the Indian Panel Code to define sexual assault, which would also deal with crimes of sexual nature against males.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines rape, is likely to be amended to define gang-rape, which will be a crime punishable with full life term which means until the end of life of the convict. Death caused by rape would carry a minimum penalty of 20 years in jail as recommended by the Verma panel.

The government wants no change in the age of consent for sexual acts, something the panel wanted changed.

The ordinance could also provide for an amendment in the Indian Penal Code to define trafficking, which could be punishable with a jail term of no less than seven years and may extend to life imprisonment.

However, despite a strong recommendation by the panel, the government is not too keen to introduce the concept of breach of command, which would make senior officers of security forces or police or any government department liable to a jail term of at least seven years if their subordinates commit sexual crimes.

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