Death or rigorous imprisonment: What will terrorize the rapists?

The  three-member commission, Justice Verma Panel submitted its report to the government in 29 days after it was formed to review the laws for sexual crimes. Failure of the government, police,public apathy all have been strongly criticized. When I was reading through the snippets of the report as I didn’t have the privilege to go through the 631 pages report at present what struck me is this recommendation,

  • Punishment for causing death or a persistent vegetative state shall be given rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years but may be for life also, which shall mean the rest of the person’s life.

This means in no circumstances do we think of giving death penalty to the rapists? Here are the recommendations for gang-rape. This becomes all the more important as the commission was formed after the brutal gang-rape of the 23 year old intern. The recommendations are-

  • Gang-rape will entail a punishment of not less than 20 years, but which also may extend to life.
  • Gang-rape followed by death shall be punished with life imprisonment.

The accused who brutally raped and tortured the Delhi gang-rape victim can heave a sigh of relief if these recommendations are passed that they will in no event lose their life. Yes rigorous imprisonment is there for them. I am not an aggressive supporter of death penalty and it is not that I think death can be the only punishment and that there we should take away the life of an individual. But my question is can there be any fear more stronger than that of death? In exceptional cases isn’t that punishment also needed? Why not keep that as an option as well in the recommendations? Secondly is RI less painful than death? I don’t think so. We are preserving the life so that they can endure hardship and we think in this way we would reform them or maybe the others who may be thinking of the committing such a crime should be in fear of that? In that case it would be prudent to at least explain what is exactly meant by rigorous imprisonment or RI so that those who are thinking of such a crime should be aware what is on cards for them.

How would we know that someone had the intentions to murder and raped a victim before that or had the intentions  to rape the victim but death happened in the process. Can we tell here which crime is more heinous? And in which category do we keep the third case where rape happens and then torture happens too without any intentions whatsoever.   The moot point is we need to instill fear in the minds of those who think of committing such a crime.  Death or no death is not the question, the point is what is going to stop them? What will make them shiver from terror when they think what happens to them  if they are caught? Let’s hope the recommendations sound a warning bell for the rapists and they get the message loud and clear. Do you think that will happen?


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