The Verma Committee Follow-up: The Challenge Ahead

Written by  //  January 23, 2013  //  National Politics  //  Comments Off

The Justice Verma Committee which released its report on Amendments to the Criminal Law, looking specifically at laws relating to speedy trials and enhanced punishment for those accused of crimes against women, has rightly drawn praise from all quarters. Its timely compilation of the report, extensive and broad-based consultation, and seemingly wide-ranging recommendations are all reflective of the intellect, diligence and inclusiveness of the committee and those who worked for it over the last month. However, without taking anything away from their sterling contribution, it is imperative to note that the real challenge facing our systems of governance begins now. As the government reflects on the report and seeks to implement its recommendations, it is essential to ensure that this time there is no slip between the cup of the committee recommendations and the lip of legislative reform.

This is especially true since several of the recommendations the Committee makes are neither uncontroversial nor simply implemented. Radically overhauling the accountability mechanisms for the Delhi Police, the requirement of compulsory registration of all marriages, making the non-registration of a rape case by a police officer an offence, reining in Khap panchayats, advocating political party reform to weed out criminal elements in politics, appointing more judges to prevent delays in the judicial system are all significant systemic concerns whose implementation is a massive task. It is a task that governments in the past, when faced with analogously wide-ranging and comprehensive reform recommendations from committees and commissions, have deftly evaded. There is no reason to believe that the present government will, consciously or otherwise, be any different.

The lessons of history and the memory of the brave victim of the brutal Delhi gang-rape dictate that we, as citizens, must not allow the government to dither on these recommendations this time. We could not have asked for a better foundation than the Verma Committee Report, which, on first impression, provides the structural architecture necessary for a long and sustained struggle to make India respect its women. The struggle will neither be short nor easy. But it must be carried on with patience, dedication and perseverance. Because the primary reason governments have not implemented wise recommendations in the past is not because they have been recalcitrant, evil or lazy—It’s because we have been overpowered by a sense of drift.

To do our part in preventing such drift, at CriticalTwenties, we will be posting pieces at regular intervals on concrete legal, policy and societal changes that need to be taken. Drawing attention to such changes and constantly reminding ourselves of the underlying need to institute real equality is the need of the hour, currently, and will be for the foreseeable future, till the country reflects a semblance of real equality.

The Verma Committee has played its part. It’s now time for all of us to play ours.

[We welcome posts on the issue of concrete legal, policy and societal changes in this context by any interested individual or group. Do send an email with the post as an attachment to criticaltwenties@gmail.com]

About the Author

Arghya is currently doing the doctorate in law at the University of Oxford. Dithering between academia and litigation for a future career but sanguine in Oxford with his current researcher status.

View all posts by

Comments are closed.