Noting that there was urgent need to prevent sexual violence against women and children, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday decided to set up a panel to look into the issue.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said there cannot be any possible objection to setting up a committee to look into the issue and suggest preventive measures to control such crimes and appropriate sentencing.

‘Need of society’

The Bench was also of the view that an important aspect related to such crimes was reformation of convicted persons. “Reformation of convicts is the real need of society,” it said. The court accepted the names of Vidya Reddy of TULIR, an organisation working for prevention of child sexual abuse in India; advocate Vrinda Bhandari; and Swagata Raha of Centre for Child and Law, NLSIU; suggested by amicus curiae Aparna Chandra for the panel. The Bench noted that the names suggested by the amicus curiae were those of experts dealing with the issue of sexual violence against women and children, and are people who are actively engaged in ground level work. More members are likely to be added to the panel. The court said the remuneration aspect has to be urgently considered by the Central government. It listed the matter for hearing on August 16.

The Bench was hearing two petitions challenging the proposed amendment to the criminal law to prescribe death sentence for gang rape of girls under 12 years of age. The petitions have claimed that the proposed amendment is a regressive step and should be declared void.

The pleas have claimed that the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, set up after the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape to recommend amendments to criminal law for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for sexual assault against women, had said that death penalty would be a regressive step.

The petitions also claimed that the Ordinance to provide for death penalty for child rape convicts was promulgated without consulting the Law Commission, the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

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