The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a writ petition for a direction to disqualify Members of Parliament and Members of State Legislatures who are charged with rape and crimes against women and children.

A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra issued notice on a petition filed by the former IAS Officer, Promila Shankar. Earlier, in the morning, after hearing senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani and Pramod Swarup, the Bench was not inclined to issue notice on this aspect, considering it to be the domain of Parliament. However, notice was issued on this prayer too in the order.The petitioner sought that the Centre take steps to implement the pending projects of police modernisation and filling up of vacancy; for termination of service of police and government officers convicted of rape and other heinous crimes against women and children and for setting up of fast-track courts across the country for trying rape cases.

The Bench observed that this was a serious issue that concerned rights violation and the court was, therefore, issuing notice on most of the reliefs sought for in the petition.

The Bench, after hearing senior counsel R.S. Suri, also issued notice to the Centre in another writ petition filed by social activist Omika Dubey praying for the appointment of additional judges for trial of criminal cases relating to crimes against women; laying down of judicial norms for speedy trial of criminal cases; payment of compulsory compensation to rape victims; and for restraining the print and electronic media from publishing/telecasting obscene pictures of women.

The Bench asked Additional Solicitor General Rakesh Khanna to produce the terms of reference of the Justice Verma Committee and the Justice Usha Mehra Commission, which were appointed following the recent Delhi gang-rape incident. Mr. Krishnamani, however, told the Bench that the Justice Verma Committee had been appointed specifically to look into the rape laws.

“Parliament failed to implement ten-year-old Law Commission recommendations and formed another committee to delay the critical issues. On the other hand, the government further failed to implement the Home Ministry’s 2009 guidelines and many other laws enacted for safety of women and formed another committee [as an] eyewash. We are sure that after the current national awakening, the accused in the present matter will be given severe punishment for rape and murder through fast-track courts. But, the young generation of this country want urgent action against powerful politicians, police officials and bureaucrats, which will be true homage to the departed soul and will bring an element of action into the democratic set-up of the country.”

Mr. Krishnamani said that out of 4,835 MPs/MLAs, 1,448 were found to be tainted with criminal cases.

Ms. Shankar prayed for directions, to the respondents, to set up fast-track courts in all States for expeditious trial of rape-related cases; that all matters of rape and crime against women and children be investigated by lady police officials and judicial trial be done by lady judges and to start a national toll-free helpline for rape victims and welfare centre for children rape victims.

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