AIDWA objects to the selective, and arbitrary approach of the Government to the Verma Committee recommendations. We strongly feel that the UPA-2 should have adopted a holistic approach to the Verma Committee report, rather than doing a pick – and – choose exercise, thereby undermining the efforts of the committee in providing a multi sectoral, comprehensive framework to tackle rape and sexual assault. The present piecemeal, and fragmented ordinance can only serve to sabotage the intention of providing recourse to victims of sexual violence.
It is unfortunate that significant amendments concerning culpability of the state; ensuring punishment to officers who trivialize their responsibility, including those with command responsibility; the recommendations on review of AFSPA, and the issue of bringing the army personnel under the jurisdiction of criminal law, have been excluded from the ordinance. Issues of sexual autonomy, the violence embedded in marital rape, the concerns of those with alternative sexualities, have been bypassed. These lacuna show that the ordinance does not do justice to the Verma committee recommendations adequately.
One crucial aspect on which the Verma Committee took a gender sensitive position was in recommending that rape and sexual assault should be a gender specific crime, with provisions for same sex sexual crimes being given separately. The Govt. ordinance has done great injustice by retaining gender neutrality, which is a dilution of the reality that rape is a heinous offence being committed against women.
AIDWA feels that the Government would have done better to move for amendments in Parliament, after following due process of consultation, subsequent to the submission of the report. In any case, the holistic perspective that has been the underlying feature of the Verma Committee recommendations should not be ignored. We demand that the ordinance be reviewed in this light. Further efforts are required on the part of the Government to ensure that justice can be accessed by rape survivors, and victims of sexual assault and related crimes.