Tuesday, April 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NCW rejects death for rape
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, April 3 — The heinous offence of rape should not be punished with death sentence, according to a recommendation made by the National Commission for Women in its report on the study of rape laws.

The report was released by the NCW Chairperson, Mrs Vibha Parthasarthy here on Monday. The NCW plans to submit copies of its report to the government this week.

The NCW’s recommendations are based on opinions expressed by members of the States’ Women’s Commissions, non-governmental organisations, police officers and retired members of the judiciary in a series of workshops held across the country. The consensus that emerged opposed death penalty as punishment for rape and instead recommended rigorous life imprisonment as a reasonable alternative.

The study is inspired by a compelling necessity to arrest the recent spurt in crimes against women, particularly rape.

The Commission decided to undertake the study after two round of discussion on the amendment of rape laws with the officers of the Home Ministry. Both sides agreed that opinions on issues as introduction of marital rape, death penalty for the rapist, were so diverse that large scale consultations needed to be initiated to get the opinion of social activists, counsellors, pyschologists and the police.

The report has made recommendations on various aspects including definition of rape, sexual history of the victim, marital rape exception, compensation to rape victims by statutory provisions, counselling, reduction of procedural delay, enhancement of punishment in cases where the accused knowingly transmits HIV to the victim and death penalty.

According to the report, eight workshops that opposed death penalty for rape contended that the death sentence would not have any deterrent effect. They said that in any case, rate of conviction in rape cases is as low as four per cent and if death penalty were to be given for rape, the convictions would decrease.

Some have expressed the apprehension that in making rape punishable by death, the rapist might murder the rape victim to destroy all evidence.

The proponents of death penalty, on the other hand argued that death sentence may be recommended in gruesome cases as gang rapes or the rape of a minor.

Dr Poornima Advani, member, NCW who has compiled the report told reporters that rape victims they met were more concerned about the fact that their lives had been ruined. “Punishment did not feature very significantly in their mind. The victim is more concerned with counselling and compensation,” she said.

The study has recommended that the age of consent be uniformly raised to 18 years and the definition of rape be widened to cover other forms of sexual assault.

The Commission has taken the stand that Clause 4 of Section 155 of the Evidence Act dealing with the sexual history of the victim be deleted.Back


Mamata calls on WB Cong chief

NEW DELHI, April 3 (PTI) — In a major development which could herald possible realignment in West Bengal politics, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee tonight met WBPCC chief A.B.A, Ghani Khan Chowdhury in a bid to forge a ‘‘grand alliance’’ against the CPI(M).

The meeting between Ms Banerjee, who is also the Railway Minister, and Mr Chowdhury took place hours after the WBPCC chief and his predecessor Somen Mitra came out strongly in support of the alliance proposal mooted by the Trinamool leader and also hailed her leadership in the struggle against the ‘‘CPI(M) tyranny’’.

Coming out of the 30-minute meeting at Mr Chowdhury’s residence, Ms Banerjee said her concept of a ‘‘grand alliance’’ was the ‘‘only way’’ to oust CPI(M) from power in West Bengal and ruled out suggestions of parting ways with the BJP at the centre.

‘‘Our relationship with the BJP as a partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will continue,’’ she said.Back

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