Justice JS Verma needs to be praised for handing over his recommendations relating to laws on crimes against women within a month. This is in contrast to most committees that take years to submit their reports. But as is the case with such recommendations, the fear is that they will remain only on paper.
What gives us hope that the government will act this time was the massive outpouring of rage on the streets of Delhi against the gang rape and death of a Delhi girl over a month ago. Led by the youth, the protests echoed across India. All political parties have heeded these young voices and are in agreement that India needs stronger laws. But we know that the best of intentions often fail to fructify and we, the people, need to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Justice Verma praised the protestors saying they succeeded where the ‘older generation’ had failed in emphasising that gender inequality has to be done away with. He also said poor governance led to the Delhi gang rape. Among his many recommendations are to increase the number of judges so that justice is delivered quickly.
A key demand is that the police force must get autonomy from politicians and that all sexual offence cases must be registered; any officer who fails to do so must be punished. Registering a case cannot depend on the whim of a policeman.
His recommendation that armed forces personnel who commit sexual offences must not get the benefit of the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) but must be tried as civilians is laudatory.
In the days ahead, the committee’s recommendations will be discussed. This is welcome. But there should be no delay in enforcing them.