The government today made it clear that no special session of Parliament would be convened to review the law to make punishment for rape harsher. It has justified its move saying that it is already working with a sense of urgency to bring about the necessary change. It could, however, call an all-party meet at a later date. Prior to that, it wants all political parties to offer their suggestions in writing to the Home Ministry.
“A special session is not required at this juncture,” Finance Minister P Chidamabram said, negating the demand of the opposition BJP and the protesters in New Delhi to the effect. Today’s firm rejection is significant as it comes from a top minister after the BJP leadership had petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention in the matter. It came hours after Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj reiterated afresh her party’s demand.
The government’s intention not to convene an all-party meeting became clearer when Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde wrote a letter to all political parties seeking their views on the amendments they wished to propose on existing laws. Though no timeframe has been given, the parties would be expected to do it prior to the commencement of the budget session. He has also asked the former Chief Justice of India Justice JS Verma to make his recommendations to the government within the stipulated 30-day period.
There is a strong opinion among various women’s and civil society groups that the provision of capital punishment is not advisable since the culprits could kill the victim after rape to suppress evidence. Currently, even in murder an accused is given a sentence of hanging in rarest of rare cases. Castration of the culprit and a lengthier and more rigorous jail term is being considered as other options.