New Delhi: Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today termed as "new" and "progressive" the Criminal Law Amendment Bill which was passed in the Lok Sabha despite several amendments being moved by members and emphasised that it will empower women. "The whole country was watching this Bill. I am happy that this Bill, which Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted to get passed, has been passed by the Lok Sabha... A new, progressive law will come into force. This is a good law for women," he told reporters outside Parliament House.
He said that this law will give enhanced punishment for crime against women. Asked about the low attendance in the Lok Sabha when the Bill was put up for voting and passage, Shinde said, "I cannot speak about those who were not present. But our members were present in good strength. It is the benches of the other side which were not occupied."
Shinde said a total of 29 amendments were listed of which 27 were put to vote. Shinde's deputy RPN Singh said after the heinous crime on the fateful night of December 16, the government had made a "commitment" to pass a strong anti-rape law.
"This Bill has expanded the scope of Article 354 which will include voyeurism, stalking and even acid attacks. An attempt was made to incorporate all issues. There may have been some differences but there is no finality and amendments can be made to the law later," Singh said and praised the JS Verma Committee for submitting its recommendations in 29 days.
"The government has kept its commitment to the nation. We hope it will be passed in the Rajya Sabha as well." Girija Vyas (Cong) said this law will empower women and provides for stringent punishment. "I feel there are five important points here. We need a strong law, its proper execution, spreading awareness about them, the activism of civil society and the role of the media," she said.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the law will ensure the severest punishment to those guilty of committing crimes against women.