Law students debate, research suggestions for Justice Verma panel

Responding to the call of Justice Verma committee, constituted to recommend provisions to amend the rape laws, the Symbiosis Law School (SLS) carried out a survey in the city to extend its "recommendations for prevention of crimes against women with reference to rape and sexual assault". An open consultation on the subject was organised by the SLS on Thursday as part of its law reform initiatives.

The sample of 250 respondents with 80 per cent students were surveyed with respect to various aspects of the crimes against women ó such as efficiency of the laws, punishment for offenders, measures for improvement of laws et al. Installation of CCTV cameras, removal of tinted films from vehicles, provision of a 24-hour toll free number and self-defence training for women were a few of the suggestions made by the respondents during the survey.

The recommendations of the report mainly stressed upon reforms in the definition of rape, procedure and the punishment interlinking the offences such as rape, sexual assault and outraging the modesty of a women, and enhancement of punishment according to the level of atrocities committed. Issues such as police reforms, gender awareness in personal law, psychotherapy were also raised during the discussion that followed the survey. A dominant view projected was that criminal jurisprudence should be made more deterrent than reformative.

During the discussion, a lot of issues such as the submissive mentality of women, the chauvinistic mindset of men, urban centric means and rural intervention in bringing victims out to lodge complaints, the efficacy of newly suggested measures as well as the psychology of the perpetrator were brought to the fore.

Shashikala Gurpur, Director, SLS, talked about the prevalent social and legal apathy that the city has towards the victims of sexual assault and harassment. In her address, she mentioned 'Tukaram vs State of Maharashtra Case', in which the guidelines were issued shifting the onus of proof from the victim to the accused in case of custodial rape. It also set the in camera proceedings into action.

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