Panel gets 17,000 emails suggesting changes to sexual crimes law

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The Justice J S Verma Committee formed by the Centre to recommend changes to the criminal law dealing with sexual crimes after the Delhi gangrape has received more than 17,000 emails with suggestions until Monday, eight days after it was announced. Officials said the panel's inbox is being filled with hundreds more every hour.

The committee, which is working out of an office in Vigyan Bhavan, has to submit its recommendations within 30 days. Besides legal experts, it has also invited suggestions from authors, women's groups and even international human rights organisations, officials said. "There are five days left for people to send their suggestions," one official said.

A team of 15 legal experts, including the three jurists selected by the government, are sifting through the emails. The committee is headed by Verma, a former chief justice of India. Former chief justice of Himachal Pradesh Leila Seth and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramaniam are the other members.

The Home ministry has deputed a joint secretary to help the committee with logistics as well as communication with the ministry. The committee, which held its first meeting on December 28, had received 6,100 emails until December 26.

"Social networking sites and the wide publicity given by the government through newspapers have also led to a huge response from people. The notification put up by the government is being circulated on these sites. This shows people are proactive about the changes," said the official.

"The committee has also requested heads of the judiciary, members of the media, leading statesmen and public figures, as well as members of the academic community and various human rights organisations, in India and overseas, for their suggestions. The members of the committee have also requested various leaders of the bar, including the Bar Council of India, and eminent authors and experts in the field of women development studies to offer their suggestions. The response from such specialists has been overwhelming," a Home ministry statement said.

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