Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday assured the Lok Sabha that the Maharashtra government was in the process of appointing a special public prosecutor and setting up a fast track court to expedite trial in the Aug. 22 Mumbai photojournalist gang rape case. Making a suo motu statement in the House on the incident, he pointed that as per the recently amended legislation, life imprisonment could be awarded for perpetrators of such sexual offences.

Referring to the members’ plea for awarding stringent punishment including death sentence to such criminals, the minister said, whether it was the Jharkhand incident (where a woman constable was gang raped recently) or god man Asaram Bapu (against whom a minor has lodged a complaint of sexual assault) or any other such incidents, appropriate action would be taken. The investigations were all in the preliminary stages. Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj, condemning the Mumbai rape incident, said: “Only if one or two of the accused are firmly dealt with such incidents will decrease”. She also wanted to know whether any time-frame had been set for prosecuting the accused in such crimes. She further pointed out that the accused in the Dec. 16, 2012, Delhi gang rape were yet to be convicted.

While Harsimrat Kaur Badal (SAD) demanded death penalty to all such culprits, JD(U) floor leader Sharad Yadav condemned the incident and demanded action against Asaram Bapu.

CPI parliamentary party leader Gurudas Dasgupta referred to the Jharkhand (rape) incident and the case filed against Asaram Bapur and shouted “Hang Asaram". He said such incidents “puts the Government to shame as they are an indication of the law and order situation in the State.”

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