Justice Verma has just led a panel to suggest amendments to existing rape laws. He was entrusted by the government to do so after India erupted in protests following the horrific Delhi gangrape.
''Our recommendations focus on both curative and preventive measures, keeping in mind the constitutional guarantee of equality for gender justice. At the end of the day, we need to remember that rape isn’t just a sexual act, but a power game,'' he said.
Quashing the need for death penalty for rape cases, Verma remarked, ''It is my personal opinion that death penalty should be used in the rarest of rare cases.''
Stating that crimes against women require not only societal but constitutional reforms too, Verma said, ''Patriarchal attitudes need to change. People still give out ‘ladoos’ if a son is born and ‘pedas’ if it is a daughter. Is this kind of environment conducive for gender equality?''
On refusing to reduce the age of juveniles from 18 to 16, Verma commented, ''The present environment, especially in juvenile homes, plays a big part in youngsters turning delinquents. Till the time the environment changes, reducing the age won’t help. We need to remember that our suggestions are not meant only for the Delhi gangrape incident, but for all juvenile delinquents in the country.''
Expressing hope that the government will take concrete action following the report, he said, ''I am an incurable optimist. Keeping in mind the mood of the youth and the widespread anger, I think the government will do something about it. If they ignore to, they will do it at their own peril.'' ''In fact, Mahatma Gandhi would have been proud today to see that the tremendous anger the youth felt after the gangrape did not turn into meaningless violence,'' Verma said at the Express' Idea Exchange programme.