Legal experts at the NALSAR University of Law have recommended against the imposition of the death penalty for rape.

In a paper submitted to the Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma Commission, which was constituted after the recent Delhi gang-rape incident, NALSAR University felt that the death penalty was similar to ‘street justice’.

NALSAR Vice-Chancellor Faizan Dr. Mustafa said that that such harsh punishments would only lead to the murder of rape victims. ‘It is not the intensity of the punishment but the certainty of the punishment that will deter people,” he said.

He added that in the US each State had its own laws, and that studies had shown that States that had withdrawn the death penalty did not see any increase in crime rate and at the same time States that had introduced the death penalty did not register any decrease in crime.

Marital rape

Dr. Mustafa said the paper also expressed strong views on marital rape. He added that marriage should not mean all-time consent to husband for sexual intercourse and strongly recommended criminalisation of ‘marital rape’. The paper also sought criminalisation of medical rape, which is permitted by legal exceptions, facilitating the infamous ‘two-finger’ test in medical investigation. Relying on such a test was criticized as another rape of the victim.

Strongly opposing bringing down juvenile age from 18 years to 16 years, the paper said that the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, was the result of deep research and study of jurisprudence and experiences of various countries. The Act follows universal standards of juvenile justice and states that juvenile age should not be brought down because a 17-year-young person was involved in ghastly gang-rape in New Delhi.

Rigorous imprisonment

The paper recommended punishing rape committed by person who is known to victim with rigorous imprisonment of not less than 10 years. Other recommendations include speedy adoption of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, refusal to register a crime as dereliction of duty and exemplary punitive monetary compensation in aggravated violence against women, such as acid attacks.

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