Politics over social issue


Let no succour or some consolation sort of feeling be derived in any quarters that incidences of crimes against women were more in economically developed countries than in India and on that count, we should not feel panicky. The fact is that all of us in the country must feel conscience stricken and remorseful even for a solitary incidence of any sort of violence against women taking place in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it abundantly clear that the country was not going to tolerate those committing rape and the new law passed by Parliament in this regard would play an effective role in curbing crimes against women and girls. He was referring to passing of the Criminal Act Amendment Bill which has the provision of strictest punishment to those committing the heinous crime like rape. Under the new law, those guilty of rape would get a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison while those found guilty of committing such crime on girls below the age of 12, would be awarded death sentence. While this needed to be given wide publicity especially in rural and semi urban areas, at the same time it is worth noting that recently courts have awarded stringent punishment to rape convicts after speedy trial lasting only a few days. That was more important as justice delayed amounted to as if justice denied. This new law would surely play an efficacious role in curbing crimes against women and minor girls. The Prime Minister, through his monthly Mann Ki Baat radio address accorded due importance and credibility to the need to act very tough against the perpetrators of crimes against women. Unfortunately, we are seeing a spurt in such crimes especially against minor girls which went against the basic human values and the rich civilization of this country where women were accorded the status of even goddesses and there existed thousands of years old tradition of worshipping teen aged girls at the conclusion of Navratra fasts. In connection with women belonging to Muslim community, Modi assured them about the “whole country stands by them to provide social justice” while referring to the bill to ban the practice of instant triple talaq. It may be recalled that to provide justice to the aggrieved women to get rid of the practice, the bill to this effect could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha and was deferred since no consensus could be evolved between some opposition parties led by Congress even though those very amendments were carried in the Bill by the Union cabinet which were desired to be made by these parties. Since politics rather than other reasons came in between the passage of the Bill and the same becoming a law, the government could have come out with promulgation of an ordinance but it chose to have it piloted again in the Upper House in the next Parliament session giving due recognition and respect to the high standards of Parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister commented upon the proposed law to be more tempting and acceptable to the opposition since a provision in the Bill about granting of bail by a magistrate to the accused has been added. There was also a provision for both the spouses to arrive at a mutual settlement between them so that their lives and those of their children would not get affected. In this connection, the proposed amendments included about an FIR could be lodged by the talaq victim, her blood relations and those who had become her relatives by virtue of her marriage. The fears of the opposition that the law could be misused as neighbours and others could step in and lodge FIR against the accused have been dispelled in the proposed Act. Still, the Bill could not be passed as the opposition did not want credit for eradicating of this practice to be pocketed by the ruling dispensation and to “encash” the same by it in the next crucial general elections in 2019. That politics and votes and elections can carry so much weight-age and preference over a burning social issue is really unfortunate and does not augur well for our democracy and the country at large.