Parliament today unitedly voiced shock and outrage over the gang-rape in Delhi, prompting the government to promise steps to ensure safety of women besides fast-tracking the trial of Sunday's incident and action if lapses are found on part of the police.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha saw members of all parties raising serious concern over repeated incidents of rape in the national capital with demands for death penalty for perpetrators of such crimes.
During the impromptu discussion, women members in both Houses were in the forefront in expressing anger over the incident and concern over safety of the fair sex in Delhi, with
cinestar-turned-MP Jaya Bachchan even breaking down in the Rajya Sabha.
Replying to the debate, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said he agreed with the members' views and promised to take necessary steps to ensure safety of women in Delhi, including increased police patrolling. Law and order of Delhi is direct responsibility of Union Home Ministry.
Shinde said a special task force headed by the Home Secretary will be constituted to look into suggestions made by members in this regard.
On Sunday's incident when a 23-year girl was gang-raped and brutally assaulted in a moving bus, Shinde said the case was "detected without loss of time" and four of the six accused have been arrested.
"It is proposed to have this case tried by a fast-track court, with a request for day-to-day hearing, so that the trial does not linger," the Home Minister said.
"If there are any lapses, strict action will be taken against the police officers concerned," he said.
"I will inquire into this case. I shall take action," he assured the Rajya Sabha when members questioned him as to what action had been taken by the Home Ministry so far against Delhi Police personnel in this particular case.
He said he will take a detailed review with Delhi Police officers and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to make the capital safer for women.
Giving details of steps already taken by police for making Delhi a safer place, the Home Minister said in identical statements in both Houses that all roads are covered by PCR vans at night and specific routes used by women working in BPOs and call centres have been identified for increased police patrolling.
Shinde said Delhi Police has issued orders to BPOs and other organisations to ensure that their women staff working in evening shifts are dropped at their doorstep. Besides, three helpline services for women would be launched.
He also mentioned that a Criminal Law Amendment Bill for dealing with sexual offences has already been introduced in Lok Sabha which seeks to enhance punishment for such crimes.
He gave details of the incident that shocked the nation.
After the minister's reply in the Rajya Sabha, BJP member Ravi Shankar Prasad asked what PCR vans were doing when the bus was moving around for hours. He was joined by party colleague Venkaiah
Naidu, who sought reasons for delay in collecting details about the incident.
Jaya Bachchan (SP) told the minister, "Instead of saying I will try (to take action against culprits), you must say 'I will'. Why cannot the government be strong?"
Responding to them, Shinde said, "It is true that the bus was moving for hours. It is a matter of investigation. I will conduct inquiry, I shall take action. Until investigation is completed, I do not want to make statement here."
Javed Akhtar (Nom) said discussion on this alone will not suffice and suggested police reforms. He favoured strictest action, but not capital punishment, against culprits.
Earlier, in the Lok Sabha, Speaker Meira Kumar led the House in expressing outrage over the "spine-chilling" incident, saying it was shameful for the entire society and asked the government to take strong steps immediately.
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj made a strong pitch for capital punishment for such crimes, a demand which did not find favour with Girija Vyas (Cong), who said such a penalty would lead to killing of women after rape.
Swaraj, however, got support from her party colleague Najma Heptulla as well as UPA ally DMK member Vasanthy Stanley and V Maitreyan
(AIADMK) in the Rajya Sabha, who said "these culprits should be hanged till death".