Justice Verma Committee Report

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Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. The Committee submitted its report in 2013. The constitution of the committee was triggered by the nation wide protest after the brutal Nirbhaya rape case (2012)

Key recommendations

  • Rape: The Committee was of the view that rape and sexual assault are not merely crimes of passion but an expression of power.
  • Marital rape: The IPC differentiates between rape within marriage and outside marriage. An exception to the offence of rape exists in relation to un-consented sexual intercourse by a husband upon a wife. The Committee recommended that the exception to marital rape should be removed. Marriage should not be considered as an irrevocable consent to sexual acts.
  • Sexual assault: The Committee recommended that non-penetrative forms of sexual contact should be regarded as sexual assault.
  • Punishment for crimes against women: It opined that death penalty should not be awarded for the offence of rape as there was considerable evidence that death penalty was not a deterrence to serious crimes. It recommended life imprisonment for rape.
  • Medical examination of a rape victim: The Committee recommended the discontinuation of the two-finger test which is conducted to determine the laxity of the vaginal muscles (to confirm rape).
  • Reforms in management of cases related to crime against women:
    • A Rape Crisis Cell should be set up. The Cell should be immediately notified when an FIR in relation to sexual assault is made. The Cell must provide legal assistance to the victim.
    • All police stations should have CCTVs at the entrance and in the questioning room.
    • A complainant should be able to file FIRs online.
    • Zero FIR: Police officers should be duty bound to assist victims of sexual offences irrespective of the crime’s jurisdiction.
    • The police should be trained to deal with sexual offences appropriately.
    • Number of police personnel should be increased. Community policing should be developed by providing training to volunteers.
    • Electoral reforms: The Committee was of the opinion that filing of charge sheet and cognizance by the Court was sufficient for disqualification of a candidate under the Act. It further recommended that candidates should be disqualified for committing sexual offences.
    • Education reforms: The Committee has recommended that children’s experiences should not be gendered. It has recommended that sexuality education should be imparted to children. Adult literacy programmes are necessary for gender empowerment.