Justice (retd) JS Verma speaks about the making of the report of the committee he headed for amendment in criminal law after the Delhi gang rape and the need for social remedies and a moral stance. The session was moderated by Senior Assistant Editor Maneesh Chhibber
Maneesh Chhibber: Could you give us a background to how the government approached you to head this committee?
Justice (retd) JS Verma: On the afternoon of December 23, I got a call from Mr Chidambaram and he persuaded me to chair this committee. Not being the home minister, he must have been asked by the Prime Minister to get in touch with me. Since he has been a lawyer appearing before me, they might have thought that he would be more persuasive. I agreed and asked about the composition of the committee. He asked me what I thought and we decided on Justice Leila Seth...I said there ought to be a lady. I also suggested a comparatively young person in active practice, a lawyer, and Gopal Subramaniam who had worked with me as my counsel 21 years ago when I did the Rajiv Gandhi commission, and a very fine lawyer, so I suggested his name. It was late night when I was told that a notification was being issued. Next morning, one of the officers came, a public notice was published immediately and then the work started.
Dilip Bobb: The Juvenile Justice Board has ruled on the sixth accused in the Delhi gang rape case being a juvenile. He will be getting off with a very light sentence. What is your view on that?
Justice (retd) JS Verma: I am not commenting on any matter which is sub judice. In our report, we have addressed mainly the larger issue. Hard cases make bad laws, so you do not make a law based on any particular case.
Vandita Mishra: Fast-track courts have been set up. Does it worry you that balance may be tilting towards speed at the cost of deliberation or justice going through its proper paces?
Justice (retd) JS Verma: I personally believe every court should be a fast-track court. If Article 21 has been interpreted to include the right to speedy justice within the right to life with dignity, then there is no reason why there should be any court which should not act speedily. But you have to bring in a balance and in that