The government was ‘ready to make more stringent provisions in law’, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha on Monday after members expressed outrage over the rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad last week.
House members, cutting across party lines, not only demanded the hanging of the accused in the case but also argued to have the death penalty as the “only punishment” for the offence of rape.
Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy, who spoke much after Mr. Singh, reiterated that the government was ready to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to ensure faster justice in cases like the Hyderabad rape and murder.
“There can’t be more inhuman than this. I have no words to condemn the heinous crime and the entire country has been shamed by the incident,”said Mr. Singh, who is also the Deputy Leader of the Lok Sabha.
“We are ready to have toughest provisions in laws to give punishment to those involved in such ghastly incidents. Let the suggestions from the House come and I leave it to you Speaker Sir to give us directions,” he added.
Speaker Om Birla, who allowed an impromptu discussion during the Zero Hour, strongly condemned the incident and informed the House that the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) – that discusses what issues should be taken up on the floor of the House – would discuss the possibility of a formal debate on the subject.
Starting the discussion, Congress member from Telangana Uttam Kumar Reddy termed the incident ‘inhuman’ and slammed the Telangana Home Minister for allegedly making insensitive remarks, and narrated the ordeal the victim’s family had to undergo to register a police case. He also blamed the sale of liquor in Telangana for the unfortunate incident and alleged that the State government continued to violate Supreme Court guidelines.
DMK leader T.R. Baalu and Congress MP from Tamil Nadu, S Jothimani raised the recent incident of rape of a school girl in Coimbatore.
Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress said even after the enactment of strict laws after the Nirbhaya case, rapes were still taking place. “You bring a law and make the offence of rape punishable only by death penalty.”
Telugu Desam Party member Ram Mohan Naidu agreed with such a stand on rape punishment and talked about gender sensitisation and teaching boys. “A boy must be taught the meaning of ‘No means No’,” he said.
This prompted Congress president Sonia Gandhi to thump her desk in approval.
Pinaki Misra of the Biju Janata Dal said that enacting laws to have the deterrent effect would have little effect if they were not carried out fast. He cited the Nirbhaya case as an example where the death penalty to the rapists was confirmed by the Supreme Court and their mercy petitions were rejected. “But the authorities in Tihar don’t know what to do with them [rape convicts].”
NCP’s Supriya Sule urged the members to speak in one voice.
Government ally and Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel said the State governments and even the Centre couldn’t instil a sense of security among women.
BSP’s Danish Ali, noted that the incidents had gone up in recent years as shown in the National Crime Records Bureau and claimed that ‘executions too happen on political considerations.’
Nama Nageswar Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi that rules Telangana asserted that the State government had given highest priority to cases of crime against women. He noted that the accused in the rape and murder of the veterinarian were arrested within six hours. He said the IPC and the CrPC should be amended so that a judgement could be delivered in 30 days.