The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Death for rape hits roadblock

New Delhi, April 21: The Justice Malimath committee has recommended that there should be no death penalty for rape.

The committee for criminal law reforms, instead, prescribes life imprisonment, without any scope for change or pardon.

The panel’s view is in contrast to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s call for death penalty in Parliament last year, triggering a debate.

In the recommendation submitted to the Centre today, the committee says “the rapists may kill the victim” if death penalty is imposed.

The committee has prescribed “instead, sentence for imprisonment for life without commutation or remission, which is higher than the punishment of imprisonment for life now prescribed by the statute”.

The panel also seeks a new law to deal with economic crimes along with the creation of a body such as the Asset Recovery Agency of the UK and Ireland.

“With the emergency and complexity of large industries and the capitalist modern economic system, economic crimes have risen in numbers, size and complexity,” it says. So “fair disposal of economic crimes with sufficient protection for the weaker parties will help reduce the rigors of the market economy”.

“The committee recommends establishment of a mechanism by name Serious Fraud Office by an Act of Parliament with adequate power to investigate and launch prosecution with utmost speed.”

The report goes on to say no distinction should be made between “cognizable and non-cognizable offences”. The police officer concerned should register and investigate “every crime that is reported to him”.

A new police Act, too, has been recommended to set up an “Apex Criminal Intelligence Bureau” that will help in “collection, collation and dissemination of criminal intelligence”.

The committee seeks amendment to Section 25 of the Evidence Act to enable audio-video recordings of confessions before an officer of the rank of superintendent of police.

The report calls for “conferment of certain powers on the chief justice on the lines of the US Judicial Council Reforms and Judicial Conduct and Disability Act” to ensure discipline in and stricter conduct code for the judiciary.

Offences of cruelty by a husband or his relatives on his wife should be made “bailable and non-compoundable”, the report says. For now, these offences are non-bailable and non-compoundable.

A scheme of fast track courts, with a retired high court judge in charge, has been prescribed to deal with cases pending for more than two years.

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