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Open to suggestions on sexual assault law: Govt
President okays ordinance to check crime against women
KV Prasad/TNS

New Delhi, February 3
President Pranab Mukherjee today gave assent to promulgating the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance bringing into force a new law to check crime against women.

The assent comes a day after the government faced criticism from various sections, including women groups, on the ordinance to deal with sexual assault cases, with the Centre indicating it is open to suggestions when the Bill comes up in Parliament.

“Lawmaking is a dynamic and an ongoing process. The government will respond positively to suggestions depending on discussions in Parliament,” Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said while interacting with The Tribune, a day after the government came under attack for the manner in which it drafted the ordinance.

The government, he said, needed to bring a Bill to replace the ordinance before Parliament in six weeks from the time it is promulgated for both Houses to consider.

While women groups and lawyer activists termed the ordinance a mere “eyewash”, some plan to hold a protest at Jantar Mantar tomorrow against the ordinance, which they feel fails to tackle the crime. The CPM disapproved of it, both on procedural and substantive grounds.

Aware of the sentiments against the action that saw the Union Cabinet meet on Friday to approve the ordinance, providing life sentence and even death penalty in the rarest of rare rape cases, the Law Minister said: “There is never a perfect law and no government can ever claim so but it does not mean that the government cannot apply its mind…. It takes a decision in totality.”

The budget session is expected to start on February 21 and continue till May 10, with both Houses going into recess between March 22 and April 22, a period utilised by the standing committees to examine ministries’ demands for grant.

The Bill to replace the ordinance may be placed any time after both Houses dispose of the customary Motion of Thanks to President’s joint address to Parliament, held on the opening day of the first session of every calendar year.

Kumar said during the discussion on the Bill, if there are suggestions and the sense of the House is that it requires amendment(s), the government will positively respond to constructive suggestion(s).

CPM Politburo said issuing an ordinance was against democratic norms when Parliament was scheduled to meet in three weeks and termed the proposed law as having done injustice to the Verma committee report on several counts.

It said the ordinance rejected recommendations on issues like making rape a gender-specific crime, increasing the punishment to public servants guilty of dereliction of duty, increasing the punishment and also guaranteed compensation for victims of acid attacks, and was highly selective about the other recommendations.

Sonia ‘promises’ job to victim's family

The brother of the Delhi gangrape victim has said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has assured his family that she will initiate steps to allot a flat to the family at Dwarka, as well as secure a job for him. Speaking to the media, he said that Sonia Gandhi had made the assurances when she visited the family along with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday. PTI





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