Lawyers oppose naming anti-rape law after victim

New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) Amid demands for naming a revised anti-rape law after the Delhi gang-rape victim, legal experts Thursday said it may not be a good idea.

Senior lawyer M.S. Khan told IANS: "Law cannot be named after a victim. Provisions for punishment for rape are enlisted under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The government can only amend the sentence for the offence, it cannot enact a separate law on rape."

Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor suggested that the revised anti-rape laws be named after the victim if her parents had no objection.

Lawyer Rebecca John told IANS there was no provision allowing the naming of a law after a person but there was no law restricting it either.

"As a lawyer and legal thinker, I oppose a move of this kind," she said.

"In the event of the death (of a rape victim), if the next of kin agree, her name can be publicised. Here, next of kin have said they have no problem. So, my legal response is that there is no prohibition."

The family of the 23-year-old who died in Singapore has said they have no objection if a new anti-rape law is named after her.

Opposing the proposal, John said: "However gruesome the incident, I don't think a set of laws which seek to put in place a better response to such situations should be named after a victim."

The anti-rape laws are presently incorporated in the IPC and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). A panel headed by former chief justice J.S. Verma is collecting suggestions to amend these laws to make them stronger.

Lawyer Monica Arora said naming the new laws after the victim may lead to political misuse of such a provision.

"If it happens now, it will be a populist stand which will create problem in future," Arora told IANS.

"What is important is not the name... Speedy justice through fast track courts should be ensured," she said.

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