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States balk at blanket death

New Delhi, Jan. 4: The demands for the death penalty and chemical castration for all rapists found little support from the Centre and the states at a meeting here today.

Most delegates at the Centre’s meeting with state police chiefs and chief secretaries, however, agreed that the December 16 gang rape and murder was a fit case for the death sentence.

Union home minister Sushil Shinde had hinted last month that the death penalty might be introduced for the “rarest of the rare” rape cases. At today’s meeting, women and child development minister Krishna Tirath conveyed the Centre’s opposition to a blanket death penalty in all rape cases.

“The death penalty should not be (imposed) in all (rape) cases.... It should be decided by the courts (in the light of the) evidence available,” she later told reporters. But she said her ministry saw reason in the demand for the death penalty in the December 16 case.

Had the states backed the demand from the streets, it would have mounted pressure on the Centre, but no state or Union territory clearly favoured the death penalty for all rapists.