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Shinde defends anti-rape Bill as MPs question its efficacy

Press Trust of India
Mar 21, 2013 at 06:48pm IST

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New Delhi: MPs raised questions over efficacy of the system in dealing with cases of sexual crimes committed by influential people like politicians as the newly passed anti-rape bill had no such provision. Responding to these questions in the Rajya Sabha, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 has a provision which prescribes punishment to persons having "dominance" and this can be used to deal with influential people like politicians.

Participating in a debate in Rajya Sabha on the Bill, members cutting across parties said effective mechanisms needed to be put in place to deal with people who wield power. Often people in high positions including ministers indulge in crimes against women, actress-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan said.

"A senior member of Parliament had made a very serious comment on a lady mediaperson after the Amendment Bill was passed in Lok Sabha (on Tuesday)," the SP member said and questioned the efficacy of such a law.

Shinde defends anti-rape Bill as MPs question its efficacy

Often people in high positions including ministers indulge in crimes against women, actress-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan said.

"How ineffective you are....this is an eyewash...what kind of disciplinary action are you going to take against people in high positions, its a shame, its a shame," she said. Citing another example, she said, "A (Maharashtra) minister's son raped a girl in Mumbai. She came to me and said that if I tell my parents they will disown me. If I go to police they will not listen to me and I don't want to go through the medical examination process."

Wondering what she should tell that girl to do, Bachchan said that after passage of the Bill, may be she could advise her to take some steps. She said she was supporting the Bill as her party wanted her to do so, but "on individual basis, I have many reservations."

TN Seema (CPI-M) sought to know whether the government was serious in initiating action against people in higher positions who escape the law by wielding their influence. She said many such instances had been witnessed recently.

"Many people in higher positions escape even after raping minor girls. They bypass legal system. The victim is isolated in society, fighting and fighting," Seema said, accusing the government of being insensitive in such matters.

Rape by high caste men committed on SC/ST women should attract stringent punishment, she said. Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) stressed the need for suo motu action by police in case of rape or such atrocities committed by influential persons including Ministers, MPs, former MPs and people in influential positions.

He cited examples of a UP Minister who allegedly passed "derogatory" remarks against a lady district magistrate and such an act by a Central Minister in Kanpur. He alleged that a case involving a former MP indulging in misbehaviour with a woman in train was summarily dismissed.

GN Ratanpuri (NC) sought to know why "men in uniform" were not brought under the ambit of such law. The Home Minister, however, said the Bill has provisions to deal with such matters and politicians are included in the category of persons "being in a position to control a dominance."

Bachchan termed the bill as "anti-male" saying "in order to provide justice to one part of the society, you cannot be unfair to the other section. This bill can be misused. She said stalking was done by women also as one could hear very often women saying that "that man is so hot...Please do not do justice to one section at the cost of the other."

She objected to usage of "patronising words" such as "protection" in case of women. "You have made the pepper spray also cheaper. It is so patronisng," she said. Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U) objected to portrayal of women as "objects of sex" in television advertisements and urged that the practice should be stopped immediately.

Najma Heptulla (BJP) said since the bill was being cleared in a hurry, the Home Minister should assure the House that the bill would be brought back for discussion once the session resumes after the month-long recess from tomorrow. She said the Juvenile Justice Act should be changed as children of today are becoming mature much earlier than earlier days.

Vasanthy Stanley (DMK), V Maitreyan (AIADMK), Ashok Ganguly (Nom) and Bharatkumar Raut (Shiv Sena) also spoke. Venkaiah Naidu (BJP), who headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home that looked into anti-rape bill, said the law is the right step in the right direction but certain aspects of the bill are not discussed and some points are missing.

"Please go through the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee. Mere bill will not solve the problem. What is required is political will," he said. He said ragging should be make cognisable offence. It also sought incorporation of some suggestions like mandatory filing of FIR, time limit to take action, strengthening women police, judicial reforms, moral education and fixing responsibility of higher officials in the bill.

He complained that the government has not given sufficient time to discuss the bill. "Include all suggestion and bring a more progressive bill," he said.

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