Indian officials fail to reach consensus on death sentence for rapists in future

2013-01-04 16:24:17 GMT2013-01-05 00:24:17(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

NEW DELHI, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- India's central and state governments failed to reach a consensus on whether to render death sentence to rapists in a future anti-rape law, while agreeing to reinforce measures to protect women against violence, reported local media on Friday.

However, the five accused in the Dec. 16 gang rape could still be sentenced to death because they are charged wit murder which, if convicted, could lead capital punishment.

India's criminal code only allows death verdict for convicted murderers, not rapists. The anti-rape law is said to be more than 100 years old and came down from the British colonial time.

Many in India think the outdated law needs immediate amendment to allow capital punishment.

The horrifying gang rape in Delhi last month, in which a 23- year-old woman was raped, tortured and mutilated by five adults and one juvenile, has made more urgent than ever the amending of the law, as numerous protests were held across the country demanding quick justice and hanging of the rapists over the past few weeks.

A day-long meeting of chief secretaries and directors-general of police, convened Friday by the central government, discussed ways to check crime against women and agreed to take steps for protection of women while initiating speedy trial and conviction of criminals, reported Press Trust of India.

"There is no consensus on amending the law to include capital punishment for rape. One or two chief secretaries have suggested but the majority kept mum on the issue," the report quoted an unnamed senior officer who attended the meeting as saying.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said all suggestions, including death penalty for rape, put forward by the chief secretaries and police chiefs would be considered by the central government.

The representatives of state governments and top home ministry officials said rape convicts should be sentenced to life till death without any leniency or parole, according to the report.

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