New Delhi: The CPI(M) has sent its recommendations to the three member committee headed by Justice JS Verma to suggest amendments in laws for faster justice and enhanced punishment in cases of sexual assault. The party has recommended a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the entire life of a person in cases of aggravated sexual assault. The party has also said 'no' to death penalty, chemical castration or further lowering the age bar in the Juvenile Justice Act.
However, in the particular case of the horrific gangrape and murder of the 23-year-old young woman, Prakash Karat, CPI(M) general secretary says, "As per the present laws, capital punishment is prescribed for cases of murder and Supreme Court has defined it or interpreted it as the rarest of rare cases when death penalty can be given...of course, in the case of the brutal gangrape and murder of this young woman, that law would apply." Prakash Karat was spoke to CNN-IBN's Rupashree Nanda.
CNN-IBN: The CPI(M) has sent its recommendations to Justice Verma committee...What are the three principal points?
Prakash Karat: First is nature of punishment to be given for cases of sexual assault and serious cases of sexual assault, second is the question of speedy trial and the third is the accountability of police in such cases. We have highlighted these three major issues.
CNN-IBN: What has the party recommended in cases of aggravated sexual assault?
Prakash Karat: Well, according to the bill which has been presented in Parliament, aggravated rape or aggravated sexual assault means gangrapes, custodial rape, child rape etc...we are asking that there has to be a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for entire life of that person. Right now, life imprisonment works out to be about 14 years but we are saying it should be for the entire life of the person. In other cases of sexual assault, the maximum sentence would be of life imprisonment.
CNN-IBN: Would the CPI(M) support death penalty?
Prakash Karat: No we are not advocating capital punishment for sexual assault. As per the present laws, capital punishment is prescribed for cases of murder and Supreme Court has defined it or, interpreted it as the rarest of rare cases when death penalty can be given...of course, in the case of the brutal gangrape and murder of this young woman, that law would apply. But, as far as aggravated sexual assaults are concerned, we are asking for maximum life imprisonment for entire life of the person.
CNN-IBN: If rape does not lead to murder, the Left would not support capital punishment?
Prakash Karat: No...we are asking for life imprisonment for the entire life of the person.
CNN-IBN: There has been a growing demand for chemical castration and reduction of age for juveniles.
Prakash Karat: We should not go for any such drastic measures without looking through the whole implications. Chemical castration is not going to work or is feasible in India. Juvenile laws could be looked at carefully. But, it should not be on the basis of one case which changes the entire laws regarding juveniles.