So yesterday, @realslimswamy messaged me to watch Devil's Advocate on IBNCNN. I tuned in 10 minutes into the show and could catch only last 10 minutes. However, today morning I looked up the full episode and here are my thoughts on the same.
My thoughts on the same:
1. Laws need to be amended and updated. I cannot believe we have to actually make statements like these. Not Justice Verma's fault, though. Just that it's sad that we have to convince everyone that with change in times, we need changes in the legal system too.
2. I'm glad they've including other offenses are included, like stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, etc. However, it kind of shocks me that they were not included already.
3. He's recommended making senior officers in the army or police force responsible for the action of junior officers, if the junior is an offender. Now, I think this is little strange. As Karan Thapar pointed out, it would be unfair to blame the boss for the action of the junior. Justice Verma defends his stand by saying that it will depend on facts of the case. He says that if the senior officer was in a position to prevent such act, but did not do it or he had knowledge of it, then he should be held responsible. How do you know if he was in a position to do that? I think it would make more sense to punish him if he was an ally to the offense. Or as Justice Verma says, had knowledge of it and tries to cover up his own ass. I kind of like Karan Thapar's argument on this topic. [as an auditor, I know 'facts of the case' is the vaguest you can get to save your ass, and it is a fantastic way to limit your responsibility.]
4. His report doesn't recommend death penalty for gang rapes leading to death or permanent vegetative state. Justice Verma says current trend is against death penalty. Apparently, women's groups have been against a death penalty. I like how Justice Verma says "acceptable penalty rather than death penalty". But as he says, if the rape ends in murder, under IPC 302, the criminal can be charged for murder. So, is death penalty under this act/report really necessary? Should the victim die to get the culprits to be tried under section 302? Don't know.
I'm not able to make my mind up about death penalty myself. There is this unpardonable crime (not just rape, terrorism, murder) on one side and my own inability to wish death or ill upon people on the other hand. Some also say death penalty would be an easy way out for the criminal, and that he should be tortured. I'm not sure about that either. I'd rather stay silent on this topic.
5. Assets and Liabilities and verification of MPs. HAHA. So Justice Verma has issues with people with dubious dealings making laws. I love how Karan Thapar shows surprise that this recommends change to India's political system! If I were him, I'd have totally high fived Justice Verma. This must be Anna Hazare uncle's recommendation.
6. So the Home Minister has not talked to Justice Verma yet. Person responsible for maintaining internal security of India does not consider it his duty to talk to the person chairing the committee for safety of people (they keep saying women, but I know rapes are not restricted to women and children and men are also the victims of this crime) This is the part which angers me the most in the 20 minute interview. (oh, this and the part that comes later). He had no infrastructural and secretarial support from the government. So, basically, the Prime Minister set up the committee to offer it as a candy to the angry citizens. And it was given 30 days to submit the report, and they all knew that in those 30 days, people would've forgotten and moved on to newer scams and we would've found more fun topics to outrage on. Well played.
7. Congress recommendation came after midnight on 5th January (last day for suggestions from public) and it was hand delivered at his residence. This is the absolute wtfness. It's almost as if they got a brainwave to send it across to avoid awkward questions later when people ask what were the recommendations from Congress. Some recommendation came one the eve of final submission of report. When they're proofreading it. Justice Verma neither confirms nor denies that the two "important" people who submitted their recommendations 12 hours before the final report was sent in were Sam Pitroda (Prime Minister's special advisor) and Meira Kumar (speaker of the Lok Sabha).
Second half of the interview angers me so, so, so much.
Justice Verma received about 80,000 mails for recommendations. In a country where so many were angry, and so many had blogged and tweeted about it, and so many had joined the protests all over the country, why so few wrote in? I'm really tempted to write something snarky here, but I'll refrain.
My recommendations to Justive Verma committee: here.