State supports death for rape, CPM against it

Thiruvananthapuram: Taking a strong stand on crimes against women, the state government has suggested that capital punishment be given to those who are found guilty of rape and murder – while the Opposition does not favour death penalty.
The suggestion forms part of the government’s proposals to the three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice JS Verma, who is mandated to give recommendations to ensure speedy justice and stronger punishment in sexual assault cases. The government also suggested that those facing charges should not be given bail or parole and their sentence should not be commuted. The suggestions were finalised after seeking the opinion of a cross-section of the people including the Opposition, activists, officials and NGOs.     
The government is in favour of setting up fast-track courts to ensure speedy justice to the victims. Besides, it has called for a system which ensures efficient and time-bound investigations, quicker trial sand punishment.
Opposition parties particularly the CPM and the Left-led womenorganisations support harsher punishment but they are of the opinionthat death penalty should not be prescribed as punishment in cases of sexual assault.
At present, section 376 prescribes life imprisonment as the maximumpunishment for rape. It also prescribes a minimum of seven years’ imprisonment for rape and a minimum 10 years’ jail for custodial rapeand gang rape.Left organisations feel life imprisonment should be awarded inaggravated forms of rape, including gang- rape, custodial rape, andsexual assault on minors. Life imprisonment should mean imprisonment for the entire period the convict is alive.

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