Indian Report Pushes for Huge Changes in Nation's Sexual Assault Laws

Committee's recommendations clock in at more than 600 pages


A special committee formed to recommend changes to India's sexual assault laws after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi proposed far-reaching police and judicial reforms Wednesday, new liability for armed official personnel accused of committing sexual offenses and recognition of sexual offenses against homosexuals.

The report, more than 650 pages long, was prepared by a committee including a former chief justice of India, J. S. Verma; a former chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, Leila Seth; and a senior Supreme Court lawyer, Gopal Subramanium. The committee was asked to suggest changes to India's legal system but went far beyond that brief, including a scathing criticism of the country's police force and top politicians.

"We couldn't confine ourselves to the Indian penal code and the criminal laws," Justice Verma said at a news conference Wednesday. "We have looked at the entire gamut of laws which have anything to do with gender justice."