Electricity Appellate Tribunal Chairperson Justice M. Karpaga Vinayagam has suggested that the criminal law be amended to award the maximum punishment of full life imprisonment for brutal rape of child, minor girl or pregnant woman. There should not be any minimum punishment.
He has submitted his suggestions to the Justice J.S. Verma Commission, which was set up to study stringent laws for preventing crimes against women after the gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December last.
Justice Karpaga Vinayagam said: “The law must be amended in such a way that wherever life sentence is awarded to the culprits, especially in rape cases, they must be directed to undergo the sentence for the full life time. Those culprits who are involved in the brutal rape cases must be put in the condemned cell for the whole period of life, without extra facilities normally provided to the convicts.”
“The absence of a legal frame work, the lack of political will and the lack of commitment on the part of law-enforcement officials to implement the laws as well as the judgments rendered by the subordinate courts, which are not appealed, are the main causes for such heinous crimes. Nowadays, the youth of India are not showing interest in learning Indian culture and tradition. They feel that it is heroism to violate law and break discipline. Raping girls amounts to terrorism. Terrorism is not heroism, but it is a mindless assault on humanism.
“There is a suggestion from certain quarters that castration is the legal response. Chemical castration involves injecting anti-androgen drugs that suppress the production of testosterone as long as the drugs are in force. Once we get past the historical package of the term castration, the strongest arguments in favour of chemical castration is that it is a non-invasive reversible method of nullifying the production of testosterone and thereby controlling extreme sexual urge. Punishment of castration would be a short term solution.
“The gang rape has evoked strong reactions from all quarters of society. Some want the accused hanged. Some are blaming our values for the crimes. Changes do not occur overnight. Changing the thought process of all people is not easy. The reform takes decades to show results. We cannot wait for that to happen. Hence, immediate steps for providing stringent punishment have to be taken which will surely have a deterrent effect. We need to reform our police forces. The shoddy investigations and the casual attitude of the law-enforcement agencies and even the members of the lower judiciary, who are not sensitive to the issues, are the main reasons for rape victims not getting justice. It is unfortunate to see that more number of juveniles commit these brutal rapes and escape from severe punishment. Hence, the definition of juvenile can be modified by reducing the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 years.”
In his suggestions, Bar Council of India member S. Prabhakaran said: “The death sentence is not a solution in rape cases. In most of the countries, it has been abolished… For the offence of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, the death sentence is imposed. More than that, if the major punishment of death sentence is imposed in rape cases, the accused would not only commit rape but would also murder the victim. So the death sentence is not a solution. But some strict conditions have to be imposed in life sentence itself: parole, leave and commutation of the sentence should not be granted to the accused sentenced to life imprisonment…”
Mr. Prabhakaran said: “The victim should be examined only by a lady doctor because if the victim is examined by the male doctor, that itself will victimise the victim. All the electronic and print media should be strictly restricted from taking photos and videos of the victim and… from telecasting or publishing the same. Most of the victims hesitate to lodge a complaint with the police because of unnecessary media publicity.”