New Delhi, Jan 30: Justice J S Verma Wednesday said sexual assault on women can in no way be termed as part of official duty.
“For anyone to think that sexual assault could in any way be associated with the performance of any official task, well needs to think again. That’s the mildest I can say,” Justice Verma told NDTV while reacting to remarks of the Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on the AFSPA immunity to armed forces personnel in conflict areas. Justice Verma said no part of official duty of anyone invested with any public power can be in any way even remotely connected with sexual assault on women; and therefore, the question of Army personnel, paramilitary personnel or any other functionary saying that this could be part of his official duty, “well there is something radically wrong with that thinking.”
Kumar had last week said that review of Armed Forces Special Powers Act was a difficult issue “because the context is different.” “How do you divide the action taken in the line of duty where the circumstances are such that nobody knows what is going to happen?” he had told a Delhi-based news channel.
Asked by NDTV that he earlier headed the 9-member bench which upheld constitutional validity of AFSPA, Justice Verma said; “I would not like to say more than that and, therefore, what we have said is only this that in a case like this, there should be no need for a prior sanction of the court to take cognizance, number one. And you mentioned, so let me say the 9-bench judgment in 1997, which upheld the Constitutional validity of this Armed Forces Special Power Act, I presided over that, true. We were concerned with the Constitutional validity, not the wisdom or un-wisdom of the law. So judgment in the first place was confined to that and there also, before we upheld it, we insisted on the Attorney General having confined to that; and there also, before we upheld it, we insisted on the Attorney General having an affidavit filed by a senior Secretary, of the Government of India. Accepting that in the interpretation of those provisions certain safeguards, which we thought were necessary to ensure that there were no human rights violation, including the dos and don'ts issued by Chief of Army Staff would be read as part of those provisions, and we upheld the Constitutional validity, the un-wisdom or wisdom apart. Now the question is of propriety. 15 years or more have passed and we have seen, when I was in the NHRC, I saw more complaints. They are growing by number in the oral interaction, which we had for 2 days before we gave the report. Those persons who had come, the women, who have come from North East and Kashmir etc, you just have to hear them. That is not something for the people to decide, whether a person who is accused of having committed rape and sexual assault in other forms, you don't need a sanction for that.”

Lastupdate on : Wed, 30 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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