The ordinance, which was cleared by the government on Friday, surprisingly overlooked a few important recommendations suggested by the Justice JS Verma committee and at the same time took a harsher stand on some.
The Justice JS Verma committee, which was set up to amend criminal law to provide quicker trial and enhance punishment for offenders of crime against women, submitted its report to the home ministry last week with more stringent penalty for offenders. However, the ordinance cleared by the Cabinet ignored some of its recommendations, enraging women groups.
Here are the major differences between the ordinance passed by the government and the JS Verma Committee recommendations:
1) The Justice JS Verma Committee recommended 20 years imprisonment for gang-rape and life imprisonment for rape and murder but refrained from using the term "death penalty" though there was public outcry to sentence rapists with death sentence following the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi on Dec. 16, 2012.
However, the ordinance passed by the Cabinet went for a harsher punishment for a rapist - a minimum of 20 years imprisonment for rapists and even death penalty in extreme cases.
2) The Justice JS Verma Committee recommended reviewing of the controversial section of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) so that armed force personnel, who commit crime against women, could be tried under ordinary criminal law.
Ordinance rejected this recommendation.
3) Verma panel reccomended criminalization of marital rape but the ordinance rejected it.
4) The Justice JS Verma Committee recommended restriction of politicians facing sexual offence charges from contesting elections. Ordinance rejected this recommendation.
5) The panel recommended that the senior police or army officials be held responsible for sexual offences committed by their junior but the ordinance rejected it.
6) The Justice JS Verma Committee wanted to make videography of recording statement from victim mandatory but the ordinance made it optional.
7) The Justice JS Verma Committee wanted the definition for sexual offences as rape but the ordinance replaced it with the word "sexual assault".
The government cleared the ordinance amid public demand for severest punishment for rapists, including death penalty and chemical castration.
Earlier, the Justice JS Verma committee, a three-member committee headed by former chief justice JS Verma, submitted a 630-page report to the government to enhance punishment for offenders of crime against women. It received a whopping 80,000 responses after the Home Ministry made a public notice inviting suggestions to prevent crimes against women, from across India.
The committee in its report blamed the government, police insensitivity and gender bias for the rising crimes against women in the country. It also created some offences like disrobing a woman, voyeurism, stalking and trafficking.
To contact the editor, e-mail: