MPs demand death penalty, condemn brutal crime that happened in Hyderabad in unified voice.
Members of both houses of Parliament on Monday outraged over the rape and murder of a Young veterinarian in Hyderabad and called, in one voice, for severe punishment for the accused, prompting the Centre to say it was ready to toughen laws on sexual assault to ensure women’s safety.
While MPs across parties suggested swift death penalties in such cases, and punishments as drastic as public lynching and castration of rapists, Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu suggested a rethink on allowing convicts in heinous crimes to file mercy pleas.
As the Rajya Sabha met for the day, several MPs raised demands for a discussion on women’s safety in view of the latest incident, which has triggered widespread protests across the country.
The charred body of the 26-year-old woman, who worked as an assistant veterinarian at a state-run hospital, was found under a culvert in Shadnagar in Hyderabad on November 28, a day after she went missing. Four men aged between 20 and 24 were arrested the next day on charges of raping and killing the woman and were sent to judicial custody for 14 days.
The incident brought back memories of the gang rape and murder of a paramedical student in the national capital in December 2012 that triggered widespread protests and resulted in laws on sexual assault being made stricter. A similar outpouring of anger and grief has followed the Hyderabad incident, with calls for stringent punishment to the four accused.
In the Lower House, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla said “we in one voice” condemn such incidents. When the Lok Sabha commenced its proceedings for the day, Birla said he would allow members to raise the “serious issue” in the Zero Hour.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh later said the central government was ready to further harden the laws on crimes against women and that it was open to suggestions from opposition parties on how to proceed on the matter.
Replying to submissions from MPs during the Zero Hour, Singh said Parliament made laws stricter after the December 2012 Delhi gang rape case and it will not hesitate from taking similar steps again.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Samajwadi Party leader Jaya Bachchan said the Hyderabad rapists should be “brought out in public and lynched”. Trinamool Congress MP Mimi Chakraborty later said she agreed with Bachchan’s suggestion of lynching the accused.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s P Wilson said courts should be empowered to surgically and chemically castrate convicted rapists before they are released from jails to check repeat offenders. “It is Time we act to save India’s daughters,” Wilson said. He added that the list of sexual offenders should also be made public.
Rajya Sabha chairman Naidu said the evil was not confined to Hyderabad and sought suggestions to improve the situation.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad initiated the discussion on the matter and said that crimes against women could not be tackled through just legislation. The right atmosphere has to be created in the country’s institutions, including those imparting education, he added.
Santanu Sen of the Trinamool Congress said fast-track courts were needed to deal with such crimes and exemplary punishment should be given to the culprits. The punishments should be widely publicised for deterrence, he added.
Mohd Ali Khan of the Congress and Sanjay Singh of the Aam Adami Party (AAP) demanded that the trial and punishment should be carried out within a fixed time frame.
Lok Sabha member and junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said the government was ready to amend the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure swift justice in cases of heinous crimes such as the Hyderabad rape and murder. The Centre had written to states and police forces over the issue, he said, adding that various parties will be consulted.
Congress MP Uttam Kumar Reddy demanded that a fast-track court set up for the case pronounce the verdict without any delay and the culprits be hanged. TR Baalu of the DMK also asked for time-bound action in the matter.
The Biju Janata Dal’s Pinaki Misra questioned the delay in executing the death sentence awarded to convicts in the 2012 gang rape and murder case.
In the Upper House, the BJP’s RK Sinha said the Nirbhaya Fund created after the 2012 rape and murder case was not being utilised by several states. Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav said there was a need to act collectively and bring change in a time-bound manner.
As Naidu concluded the discussion on the matter in Rajya Sabha, he said: “Merely making laws is not enough; we are seeing what is happening after conviction. There is a system of a series of appeals… Can anybody think of having mercy on such people? And why,” he said.
He said there was a need for political will and administrative skill before “the nation goes for the kill of this social evil”.