New Delhi/Chennai: The Union government on Tuesday set up a task force for periodic reviews of women’s safety in the national capital, while Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa proposed maximum punishment and a 13-point plan to prevent incidents of sexual abuse.
The task force was constituted under Union home secretary R.K. Singh and will include Delhi’s chief secretary and police commissioner among other members. They will review the functioning and performance of Delhi Police every fortnight.
The other committee that the Union government set up last week under retired justice Usha Mehra is enquiring into the 16 December gang-rape and torture of a woman in the capital, and trying to fix the responsibility of the state police and administration.
Jayalalithaa, while expressing grief over the death of the 23-year-old woman on Saturday, proposed a 13-point plan to ensure women’s safety and prevent incidents of sexual harassment.
“The Centre will be requested to amend the laws to ensure the maximum punishment of death penalty and chemical castration for those responsible for rapes. The offence should also be made non-bailable,” the chief minister said.
She added that the Tamil Nadu government will amend the Goondas Act and set up fast-track courts in each district to investigate sexual assault cases in the state.
Her remarks came a day after Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde wrote to all political parties to send their suggestions directly to the justice J.S. Verma commission, which is looking into possible amendments to the criminal law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for those committing sexual assault against women.
Existing laws do not provide scope for a death sentence in a rape case.
Following the gang-rape in Delhi, there have been strong demands from various political parties and the public to amend the laws to make such offences liable to capital punishment.
The past two weeks have seen strong protests in the capital and other cities seeking justice for the gang-rape victim and stronger laws to protect women.
“It is a very good suggestion (made by Jayalalithaa). She has asked for harsher punishment for the accused and has also said that steps will be taken to amend the Goondas Act,” National Commission for Women chairperson Mamta Sharma said. “She has also asked for setting up of more fast-track courts to deal with such crimes. If all these measures are followed, there will certainly be a decrease in the crime rate.”
Though the clamour for justice has grown, the number of protesters at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar has dwindled in the past two days. Metro stations in the capital have been reopened and roads leading to India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan thrown open for normal traffic.
Some of the groups have declared 3 January as a day of protest. That’s when Delhi Police is set to file charges of murder and rape in a fast-track court set up specifically for the case.
PTI contributed to this story.