The Supreme Court on Friday refused a request to disqualify legislators facing charges of sexual assault, but asked all states and the Central Government to explain within a month whether they plan to set up fast-track courts to handle rape cases.
The apex court judges asked states and the Centre to explain if and when these special courts will have judges, how they will be selected, and what will be done to compensate rape victims.
Today's directives are based on a petition filed by former IAS officer Promilla Shanker, which asked the Supreme Court to suspend all lawmakers from national and state legislatures who face prosecution for crimes against women.
"We can't disqualify MPs and MLAs. We don't have this power. Such a sweeping relief can't be sought," the judges said.
The gang-rape and killing of a student in the capital two weeks ago has triggered a national debate on the safety of women and whether those accused of crimes against women are allowed to escape penalties.
According to a report, there are two MPs and a total of 42 MLAs who face charges of crimes against women, including rape.
On Thursday, the ruling Congress expelled a local party leader in the Bodoland area of Assam who had been accused of raping a mother of two.
Earlier, the Trinamool Congress suspended its partymen who had been caught on video heckling and throwing money at women dancers at their foundation day party.