Delhi gang-rape initiated introspection of our laws and justice delivery system: Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Apr 7 (ANI): Citing the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang-rape incident, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today said reforms have been made in laws pertaining to crimes against women, but acknowledged and agreed that more needs to be done.

Inaugurating the Conference of Chief Ministers (CMs) and Chief Justices (CJs) of High Courts here today, Dr. Singh said: "The national outrage at the recent horrific tragedy of gang rape in Delhi compels an urgent introspection about our laws and 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."

"On its part, our Government has moved with expedition to respond to the felt sensitivities of the people in the aftermath of this gruesome tragedy of Delhi and have brought about significant amendments in the criminal law to effectively deal with heinous offences against women. I must thank the Judiciary for establishing special courts for fast tracking trial of offences against women," he said.

"But, notwithstanding the steps that have already been taken, a great deal more needs to be done as far as offences against women are concerned," he added.

He also said that the demand for reforms in the judiciary has gained a "new urgency" and added that "fundamental principles of law and natural justice must not be compromised to satiate the shrill rhetoric of our political discourse".

"At 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," Dr. Singh said.

Lamenting that the judge to population ratio at the current level is grossly inadequate, Dr Singh stressed the need to significantly enhance the number of judges to administer justice.

"The judge to population ratio at the current level of 15.5 judges per million population is indeed grossly inadequate. We need to alter this equation so as to address the problems of pendency and delays in disposal of cases," he said.

"However, the initiative in this must come from our State Governments. I would urge all Chief Ministers to extend their full support to this important initiative. On behalf of the Central Government, I would like to assure this august gathering that we would increase appropriately the quantum of funding for the scheme under which we provide support to the State Governments for the creation of infrastructure for subordinate Judiciary," he added.

Stating that we will engage with the 14th Finance Commission for devolution of funds to the State Governments specifically for the judicial sector, Dr. Singh said: " In addition, we will request the Commission to earmark funds for establishing fast-track courts for speedy trials not just in cases involving heinous crimes but also those in which offences have been committed against the vulnerable people like the elderly, women and children." (ANI)