Tag Archive for JVC report

Justice J.S.Verma: In memoriam

Justice Verma

To pay tribute to the man who left a legacy of justice is to promise to keep the fight ongoing

By Farah Naqvi

On April 22, 2013, India lost a man who stood taller than others. In a lifetime of work he unwaveringly upheld the values of our Constitution and deployed them to uphold rights of those most weakened, most marginalized – whether by the deliberate tragedies created by vicious state politics or by the ubiquitous hierarchies of a patriarchal social order. He stood up for the rights of women, for justice in Gujarat, and for so much more.

Justice J. S. Verma led from the front. He led with integrity, honesty and a fearless ability to hold accountable the State, even the Judiciary and certainly society as a whole. Both as Judge and as citizen he spoke boldly a language of justice on the many complex issues that define our times. He dug into the depth of the horrors in Gujarat to craft the NHRC report in 2002. And 10 years later he pierced through the resilient patriarchy of Indian society to craft the Justice Verma Committee report in 2013. Both with the same deep intellect and instinctive clarity on what was right and what was just.

Way back in 1997 he headed the three member Supreme Court bench that gave us the Vishakha Judgment, a time when ‘sexual harassment in the workplace’ was little more than a collection of meaningless words to most Indians, and he lived to see that judgment translate itself into an Act.

Most recently, on January 19-20, 2013, at the hearing of the Justice Verma Committee, the stamina of seasoned women’s rights activists, to sit for endless hours, to speak for endless hours, was more than tested by the stamina of the committee members, including Justice Verma, Justice Leila Seth and Gopal Subramanium who sat without break, and listened and absorbed till late into the evenings.

The JVC report shall remain a historic report, because it sliced through the layers of patriarchy, not by peeling one layer at a time, but in dealing sharp, clear blows to its very core

Justice Verma turned 80 just before he formally handed the JVC report to the government. This gift – not for himself but for the women of India – shall remain a historic report, because it sliced through the layers of patriarchy, not by peeling one layer at a time, but in dealing sharp, clear blows to its very core. Parts of the JVC Report have found their way into the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013. Other parts remain an unfinished agenda. And the lasting tribute of the women’s movement, to this extraordinary Jurist and human being, can only be to stay the course on this long journey on which he joined us, leaving a milestone in his wake.

At his funeral there were several of us, women’s rights activists of many different hues standing together, joined in a moment of respect and gratitude, silently owning his legacy, silently promising to take it forward.

Farah Naqvi is a Delhi based activist and writer

Justice Verma: A judge who fought for women’s rights

Women’s groups slam India’s ordinance on sexual violence

Delhi rape protest

The Justice Verma Commission recommendations hailed as groundbreaking by activists in India not reflected in new ordinance

By Team FI

Representatives of several women’s groups in the country have strongly criticized the new ordinance on criminal law amendments in respect of sexual violence against women. The activists alleged that the ordinance is a political move and has completely bypassed the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee (JVC) report.

The panel which was set up in the wake of the nationwide protests and outrage to the brutal rape of a young woman in December last year had in a public notice called for recommendations from the general public and submitted a 630 page report to the government.

The press release distributed by activists at the press meet in New Delhi on 2nd February stated its alarm at the “complete lack of transparency displayed by the Government in proposing an Ordinance as an emergency measure.” The Ordinance was cleared by the Cabinet on February 1, 2013 – about 20 days before the next parliamentary session. The press release called it a “hasty non-transparent measure” and wondered at what objective and purpose it served since the proposed law will not retrospectively apply to the Delhi gang rape case.

The activists demanded transparency and due process in law making. “We demand that the Parliamentary process, including the Standing Committee process be upheld, for this is the place where we, as citizens of this country, have the right to be heard,” stated the press release.

“An Ordinance like this, implemented by stealth, only serves to weaken our democracy,” notes Vrinda Grover, a human rights lawyer. Emphasizing this concern, Madhu Mehra, a women’s rights lawyer added, “This betrays the trust of scores of Indian men and women, who marched the streets of Delhi and other cities demanding an end to impunity for Sexual Violence.”

Women’s organizations were further shocked to learn that the JVC report was not considered fully or even partially, neither in letter nor in spirit in the content of this Ordinance. “We are told that virtually all the recommendations that we and others had hailed as signs of a paradigm shift in understanding violence against women; all the recommendations that can actually strike at the heart of impunity – have been dropped,” stated activists, Kavita Krishnan, Farah Naqvi and Sunita Dhar.

These included – recognition in law of marital rape, new provisions on the offence of breach of command responsibility, non-requirement of sanction for prosecuting a member of the security forces accused of sexual assault and rape, provision for trying them under ordinary criminal law for sexual crimes; and change in definition of consent to any sexual act.

The activists alleged that the Ordinance has introduced provisions that were strongly rejected by the Justice Verma Committee, including the death penalty. “We are shocked to learn that the Ordinance introduces a gender neutral perpetrator for sexual assault, suggesting that both women and men could potentially be charged for the offence. Rape as we know it is a crime largely defined as male violence against women, with absolutely no evidence of women as perpetrators. This is in disregard of the Justice Verma recommendations too, and is totally unacceptable”, noted Madhu Mehra.

Women’s groups, who have been demanding comprehensive amendments in criminal law related to sexual violence for over two decades, had endorsed the Justice Verma Committee Report. The activists congratulated the Justice Verma Committee for completing the report in record time without compromising on consultations, dialogue, due process and transparency. The groups have made oral and written submissions to the Justice Verma Committee and their voices and concerns were reflected in the Committee’s report. “We again reiterate our call to the Government of India to implement the recommendations of the report comprehensively, in letter and spirit,” noted Vrinda Grover.