‘181’ could become the nationwide women helpline number

Even as the Union government said on Monday it was planning to make ‘181’ pan-India women helpline number, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought legal opinion on making public the names, photographs and other details of all rape convicts to ensure their social banishment, a demand raised by social activists and general public.

“We have asked the Department of Legal Affairs to give its opinion on the proposal … we want to take all legal precautions before initiating the project. We want clarification on whether it was legally correct to put names and pictures of those convicted by lower courts in case they approach the higher court,” a senior MHA official said.

Seeks NCRB view

Similarly, the MHA has sought the opinion of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on technical aspects of the initiative; whether data is available and how to monitor it online, before going ahead with the ‘name and shame’ project.

After the public outrage over the rape and death of a paramedical student in Delhi last month, the MHA had assured social organisations and protesters in Delhi and other States that it would look into the suggestion of making name of rape convicts public by putting data online.

“The NCRB will prepare a directory of all rape convicts and upload their photographs, names and addresses on its website. We are planning to start it in Delhi ... photographs, names and addresses of the rapists will be uploaded on the Delhi Police website also. Subsequently, the plan will cover all States and Union Territories,” Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh had said.

Sibal to write to CMs

Minister for Communications and IT Kapil Sibal on Monday said the government was considering releasing new women helpline ‘181’, recently launched in Delhi, to all the States.

“We will give single emergency number ‘181’ to women across the country,” Mr. Sibal told journalists. He will soon be writing to all Chief Ministers, seeking their approval for a nationwide single helpline for women in distress.

Significantly, both the moves come a day after the Congress’ Jaipur conclave – chintan shivir –where party president and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi asked the Centre and all Congress-ruled States to take immediate measures to check growing instances of crime against women.

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