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The Justice Verma Committee on Wednesday recommended enhancing punishment of upto 20 years imprisonment for rape and murder and life for gangrape but refrained from suggesting death penalty.
The three-member Committee headed by former Chief Justice J S Verma submitted its 630-page report to the government suggesting amendment of criminal laws to provide for higher punishment to rapists, including those belonging to police and public servants.
New offences have been created and stiffer punishment has been suggested those committing it like leaving the victim in a vegetative state. The new offences include disrobing a woman, voyeurism, stalking and trafficking.
The present law provides for punishment for rapists of imprisonment ranging from seven years to life.
The panel, which was constituted in the wake national outrage over the December 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old para-medical student in Delhi in which one of the six accused is said to be a juvenile, however, is of the opinion that the age of the juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act need not be lowered from the present 18.
There has been strong demand that the age of a juvenile should be brought down to 16 in view of the fact that the minor accused in the Delhi gangrape allegedly behaved in the most brutal way.
Releasing the report, Justice Verma told a news conference that the Committee has not suggested death penalty for rapist because there was overwhelming suggestions from the women organisations against it, a point that was received with thunderous applause from activists at the media interaction.
The Committee did not recommend death penalty for rape because it was a "regressive step" and it "may not have a deterrent effect".
"We have not recommended death penalty as we had overwhelming suggestions against it. The women groups unanimously were against death penalty and that is why we thought it is a strong reason to respect that view particularly in view of the modern trend also," Justice Verma said.
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