People Will Keep Up Pressure for Reforms: J.S. Verma

New Delhi
People Will Keep Up Pressure for Reforms: J.S. Verma

Cautioning that changes cannot be expected "overnight", Justice J S Verma, who headed a panel on women's safety, today said aware citizenry would keep up the pressure for bringing reforms on the issue, including barring people with criminal background from legislatures.

Verma said that the movement for safety of women which started after the barbaric Delhi gangarpe incident had its impact on people across the country and was likely to sustain as it was not led by a single leader which was its "positive" aspect.

He said the committee headed by him had also gone in to the question of electoral reforms, "very much to the annoyance of politicians".

The Committee had sought disqualification of MPs and MLAs charged with heinous crimes like rape.

"Very much to the annoyance of politicians, we have also gone in to the question of electoral reforms.... Unless the parliamentarians, you see are of a particular mindset and are not of criminal background, how can you expect someone accused of murder and rape being sensitive to gender issues," Verma said.

He was speaking at an an interaction organised by All India Management Association (AIMA)

He said it was for civil society to keep the pressure on issues like not allowing people with criminal background in Parliament and also that he would be surprised and disappointed if the movemnet does not sustain.

"We have only recommended, but that has got to be done in Parliament. We have tried all this and now it is for the civil society to keep the pressure on. And, I think it'll continue," he added.

"I think the good part, in this incident is that....They are not being led by any leader who is going to decide the future course. Each one is committed to that cause and unless each one of them moves away from it, I think its going to sustain," he said.

He said that young men were also very much involved with the issue of women's safety which strengthened the movement.

"Because if the women have to protect themselves, then naturally they cannot do it as effectively because if males come forward, in the first place, the prevention part would be there. Secondly, they are going to be far more effective. Let's wait and see but I would be very surprised and disappointed if it doesn't sustain," he said.

"These changes won't take place overnight but I do see it starting to happen. It'll take time but this aware citizenry is probable going to ensure that this is done," Verma said. 

Verma also emphasised on the need to have police reforms and added that unless the FIR is registered and investigation done properly, the stage of trial will not come.

"Not only FIR, a women suffering sexual assault goes to complain, first of all the FIR is not recorded. If recorded, then she is sent for medical examination, you see, much worse than what has already to happened to her, she is subjected to (during) medical examination," Verma said.

Verma also spoke on the issue of judicial reforms. He said that he had in 2005 written to Prime Minister on the issue of a uniform retirement age for judges. He also said that if infrastructure was a constraint, court buildings could be used for a second shift.

Verma said that he had also said if there was a shortage, there could be a provision of ad-hoc judges and observed that people of his fraternity were doing so many things after retirement.

He said that in the report, the committee had paid specific attention to the issue of khap panchayats and asked what the institutions of governance were doing.

Speaking further, he rued that the government was still to do anything on the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace addressed in the Vishkha judgement.

In a question related to the role of the juvenile in the Delhi gangrape case, Verma said that he would not like to comment as the matter was sub judice. He however added that laws were made for general application and not for particular case.

He added that even if a stringent law was made, it could not be applied retrospectively.

He said that a lot of juvenile came from a background which determines their criminality and added that this aspect also had to be dealt with.

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