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President's nod to ordinance to fight sexual crimes

 New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS): President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday gave his approval to an ordinance that awards stricter punishment for sexual crimes against women including death sentence in rare instances.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, was passed by the cabinet on Friday. It is based largely on former chief justice J.S. Verma's report.

But women rights activists have slammed the ordinance as a mockery of the Verma recommendations and lashed out at the government for quietly passing the ordinance without a debate or discussion.

On Saturday, they urged the president not to sign the ordinance, saying it lacks teeth to fight sexual crimes against women.

With the presidential assent, the ordinance comes into effect immediately. It has to be passed by parliament within six months.

The government Saturday said the ordinance would be open to review when it is brought before parliament.

Women's groups have planned a protest here Monday against the ordinance.

The Verma panel was set up by the government last month to review laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault.

This followed the outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman Dec 16. The victim died in a Singapore hospital 13 days later.

The panel submitted its report to the government last week.

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