More needs to be done to curb crimes against women: PM

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday said his government had moved fast to bring about significant reforms in the laws relating to crimes against women in the aftermath of last year’s brutal gang-rape but admitted that more needs to be done.

Speaking at a conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts here, the prime minister said the “national outrage” after the Dec 16 gang-rape forced “urgent introspection” on anti-rape laws and the justice delivery system “but we must not allow ourselves to be overcome by a sense of despair at some of the demonstrated inadequacies of our legal system”.

He said the government had moved “with expedition” to respond to the nationwide outpouring of anger in the aftermath of the rape and had “brought about significant amendments in the criminal law to effectively deal with heinous offences against women”.

The 23-year-old woman was raped by a gang of five men and a juvenile on board a moving bus in south Delhi. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital where she was flown for treatment.

The prime minister thanked the judiciary for establishing special courts for fast-tracking trials for crimes against women, but added that “notwithstanding the steps that have already been taken, a great deal more needs to be done as far as offences against women are concerned”.

The prime minister also said that a time when the demand for judicial reforms and change in the legal processes “has acquired a new urgency, we must ensure that the voice of sanity and logic is not suborned to the momentary impulses of the day”.

“Fundamental and time tested principles of law and natural justice must not be compromised to satiate the shrill rhetoric that often defines our political discourse and sometimes succeeds in drowning appeals to logic and justice.”

The prime minister said the conference was a “unique opportunity for interaction between the judiciary and the executive at the highest levels to find ways and means of moving forward in our collective task and endeavour of building a strong justice delivery system in our country”.

Since the last conference held four years ago, the “need for speedy and affordable justice has come into sharper focus”, he added.

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