The HinduJustice J.S. Verma. File photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
Justice J.S. Verma committee, set up to recommend measures to improve laws dealing with sexual offences, has received around 80,000 suggestions and wrapped up its work within 29 days.
He said the failure of governance was the root cause of crimes against women. He also said it was “equally shocking” that there was total apathy of everyone who had a duty to perform.
“We have submitted the report in 29 days. When I offered to do the work within 30 days, I did not realise the magnitude of the work,” Justice Verma told a press conference after submitting his voluminous report to the Home Ministry.
Justice Verma, the head of the three-member panel, was approached by the Central government for the task on December 23. The other members of the panel are former Himachal Pradesh Chief Justice Leila Seth and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam.
Highlights of Verma Committee report
Imminnent need to review AFSPA in conflict areas
Sexual offences by armed forces and uniformed men in conflict areas should be brought under ordinary criminal law
Recommends appointment of Special Commissioners with adequate powers to redress complaints of sexual violence against women in conflict areas
Ambiguity over the control of Delhi Police should be cleared
Delhi gang rape case shows the failures of traffic regulations, maintenance of law and order and dealing of sexual assault cases
Every district magistrate should prepare census of missing children
Police action on peaceful Delhi protesters scarred Indian democracy
‘All suggestions considered’
He said the report may be known after him but it is the outcome of suggestions from people within India and outside the country.
“We received 80,000 suggestions,” he said adding all of them were read and considered before finalising the report.
On how he decided on a time frame for finalising the report, Justice Verma said when a senior Cabinet Minister approached him on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he asked him when is the next session of Parliament.
“The Minister told me that the (Budget) session will start on February 21. There were two months. So I decided lets do it in 30 days. If we are able to do it in half the time available, then the government with its might and resources should also act fast,” he said.
He complimented the youth for the mature response.
“Youth has taught us what we, the older generation, were not aware of. I was struck by the peaceful manner in which the protests were carried out…the youth rose to the occasion,” he said.
‘Shocked to see Home Secretary praising Commissioner’
Justice Verma castigated Home Secretary R. K. Singh for his praise of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape incident, saying he was shocked to hear this when an apology was expected.
“The Commissioner of Police was given a pat on his back by no less than a person holding the post of Home Secretary. I was shocked to see that,” Justice Verma said.
He said the least he would have done was to seek an apology for the failure of the duty to protect citizens and “instead of that (what did we see)“.
Mr. Singh had praised Delhi Police during a press interaction days after the December 16 incident when the force arrested six men allegedly involved in the crime.