JNU Students’ Union response to Justice Verma Report
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY, New Delhi
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union welcomes the landmark report of the Justice Verma Commission, which has sought to meet the sentiment of young protestors on the street for the need for far-reaching and drastic changes in Constitution, law, policing, governance and society in order to stop crimes against women in the country. We congratulate the entire team of the Commission for setting a new benchmark in public accountability by sticking to its commitment of completing its work within the stipulated timeframe of one month. We also welcome its generous and liberal interpretation of the narrow terms-of-reference provided to it by the government, to make a set of wide ranging recommendations including against patriarchy itself. The salient features of the Recommendations include:
‘Bill of Rights for Women’ to ensure the life, security and bodily integrity of women, democratic and civil rights, equality and non-discrimination, marriage by own choice and to be an equal partner in marriage, right to reproductive and sexual health, right to secure space, housing and shelter, rights of elderly women, protection of women in distress, etc.
Amendments to the CrPc which redefine rape, aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault along with enhanced punishments as well as new laws against voyeurism, public stripping, stalking, trafficking, sexual harassment at workplace, etc. Protecting the right to bodily integrity of women, transgenders and sexual minorities.
Safeguarding and enhancing the rights of children and minors who are facing heinous and increasing crimes, especially, the unaccounted missing children or juveniles who are abused in protection homes.
Police Reforms based on existing recommendations that are gathering dust including change in standard behaviour, procedure and regulation. Compulsory registration of FIRs on rape. Action against police personnel for neglect or apathy that leads to inaction on crimes against women.
Firm action against khap panchayats and their attempts to exercise extra-constitutional authority.
Accountability: Recommendations for establishing ‘breach of command’ by public servants, police officers and armed forces, or laws against those in custody roles like teachers, managers or those in positions of authority, for participation and/or failure by action or inaction to prevent crimes against women and children that will invite strict punishment. No immunity to armed personnel under pretext of faulty laws like AFSPA or any other special laws from sexual assaults including repeal of such unjust laws.
Political Reforms: Electoral reforms for disqualification of those elected representatives against whom the courts have taken cognizance for heinous crimes as well as recommendations to prevent criminalization of politics, politicization of crime and gender bias in electoral processes.
Judicial Reforms to change mindset and delivery of speedy justice by the judiciary including its expansion.
Formation of new Constitutional Authority like the CAG to overlook gender-sensitive education reforms and non-discrimination against women and children.
New protocols for medical examination as well as obligations for reparation and rehabilitation of all rape victims.
We also thank the Commission for appreciating the Gender Sensitization Committee against Sexual Harassment in JNU which has democratic participation from all sections of the university community alongside recommendations for amending the faulty Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Bill. The Committee has taken note of our suggestion that Universities which have Visakha compliant committees should be exempted from the Bill. We also welcome the Committee’s suggestion that the JNU GSCASH should be a model for other universities.
We were expecting more comprehensive and categorical recommendations from the Commission for judicial reforms. The JNUSU will bring out a more comprehensive response after studying the Report in greater detail.
The recommendations of the Justice Verma Commission need to be implemented without delay. The onus is now upon the government to stick to its commitment of ensuring implementation within one month.
The Commission’s observation regarding inadequate cooperation from various government departments is a matter of grave concern. The JNUSU demands that the Union Government must bring the implementation of various recommendations of the Justice Verma Commission on to the legislative agenda for the forthcoming budget session of Parliament. The JNUSU will be compelled to launch an agitation in event of failure to do so.
V. Lenin Kumar, President, JNU Students’ Union
Shakeel Anjum, General Secretary, JNU Students’ Union