Former Chief Justice of India J S Verma said Wednesday the country’s youth will not forgive the government if it doesn’t “act at the earliest” and do the “needful” as suggested by the three-member panel headed by him.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said: “We were given a task that we have done to the best of our abilities... Now, it is for the government and the legislature to take appropriate action at the earliest. But, let me say that having seen the public outcry after the gangrape, I am certain of one thing: the youth will not be that forgiving of the government if action that has to happen at their level doesn’t happen. Those in power who forget and ignore the pictures and videos of young men and women braving the harsh winters to demand action will be doing so at their own peril.”
Incidentally, among the young law graduates assisting the committee, which was set up after the Delhi gangrape, was Preetika, Verma’s granddaughter. “She and many like her... worked tirelessly day and night because they expect a safer country for women and children. My London-based daughter and grandson, who is a student at Oxford, were calling each day and telling me how the entire world is waiting to see how we react to this crisis. I hope nobody is disappointed now,” said Verma.
Asked if he had sought an assurance from the government, before taking up the assignment, that the panel’s report would be implemented in a time-bound manner, he replied in the negative. “There was no such commitment. What we tried to do was a call to national duty. Hope those in the government also feel the same way.”
Stating that the “eyes of the entire world are on us”, he said: “Among the many foreigners who offered suggestions to the committee was the chief justice of Canadian Supreme Court. There were many academics and jurists from many parts of the world who sent inputs. They also also waiting and watching.”
“While most decisions were taken unanimously, there were also some differences. One point, the only point, where we differed was making rape a gender neutral offence. But even this was sorted out later,” said former Himachal Pradesh High Court chief justice Leila Seth, a member of the committee.
Asked why the age of juvenile delinquents was not reduced to 16 years as demanded by many, Seth replied: “There