New Delhi, April 15: Amid a controversy over his remarks opposing death penalty for rape, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has told the NCW that he holds rape to be a heinous crime deserving stern punishment but believed that capital punishment should be used only in the rarest of rare cases.

Replying to a notice by the National Commission for Women (NCW), Mulayam Singh said he has the highest regard for women and has actively taken a number of initiatives for their upliftment.

The NCW had sent him the notice based on media reports on his remarks.

The Samajwadi Party chief said last Thursday that death penalty in rape cases was “unfair” as boys make “mistakes”. The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister had also said that if his party leads the government at the centre, he would change the law.

The NCW Tuesday said that in his reply to the notice, Mulayam Singh said: “The offence of rape is a serious and heinous crime and the perpetrators of such crimes deserve to be dealt with sternly and swiftly.”

However, he added that it was his belief that “a death sentence is to be reserved for only the rarest of rare cases as has been laid down by the Supreme Court of India in the context of death penalties”, the NCW said.