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Delhi Police to seek death for gang-rape accused

Government considering amending laws to award capital punishment to rapists

Gulf News

New Delhi: The Delhi Police have decided to seek the death sentence for all accused in the December 16 gang-rape case of the 23-year-old paramedical student.

The draft of the 1,000 page chargesheet is currently with its legal department for vetting before it is formally submitted to a trial court on Thursday.

Police are expected to cite 30 witnesses in connection with the case, including the male friend of the victim who died in a Singapore hospital on Saturday, a carpenter who was robbed by the accused in the same bus, doctors of both Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital and Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

The Delhi High Court has already asked the trial court to conduct trail on day-to-day basis to ensure speedy justice.

The public protest caused by the brutal gang-rape of the victim on a moving bus is refusing to subside much to the discomfort of the authorities. Protesters continue to gather at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar disregarding cold conditions prevailing in the national capital. Hundreds of students assembled at the Jantar Mantar on Monday demanding death for the accused.

The ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, who is general secretary of the party, have already announced that they would not participate in any New Year’s celebration. Sonia along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had received the dead body of the victim who was brought home in a special flight on Sunday morning.

A perturbed government, wary of becoming unpopular among women and the youth ahead of the crucial 2014 general elections, is moving fast to ensure speedy justice for the victim’s family.

Supreme Court lawyer Dayan Krishnan has been appointed as the special public prosecutor by the Delhi Police to conduct trial while the federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday said he had written letters to all political parties to give their views on amending the existing laws dealing with rape in writing to Justice Verma Committee set up on December 23 to review the existing laws and suggest amendments.

Besides Justice (retired) J.S. Verma, the other members of the committee are Justice (retired) Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanian.

The committee, which has sought written submission from various students bodies, NGOs and other sections of the society, has been given 30 days to submit its reports.

There are indications that the Home Ministry would convene an all-party meeting being demanded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) only after receiving Verma committee report.

The chances of promulgating a Presidential ordinance to provide the death penalty for rapists are also high in view of the unabated public anger. Ordinance will then come up before the Parliament for adoption during the Budget Session slated to start in the last week of February.

Under the existing law, the maximum punishment for rape is life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the provincial Delhi government on Monday announced a government job for one member of the victim’s family and monetary compensation of Rs1.5 million (Dh100,000).

“Keeping in view the extremely exceptional circumstances and barbaric nature of the crime, the cabinet decided to sanction an amount of Rs.1.5 million to the surviving members of the victim’s family,” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said in a statement.