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CBI Director’s rape remark triggers row

Staff Reporter
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Ranjit Sinha
Ranjit Sinha

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Ranjit Sinha provoked angry responses from women’s rights groups on Tuesday, making remarks which some interpreted to suggest that rape, like gambling, was an unalterable social phenomenon.

Mr. Sinha’s remarks were made during a discussion on sports ethics, at which he called for laws on gambling to be reviewed.

“I feel that if we can have lotteries in States, if we can have casinos in some tourist resorts and if the government can declare schemes of voluntary disclosure of black money, what is the harm if we legalise betting.” To underline his case for legalising gambling, he asked: “Above all, do we have the enforcement agencies?” Mr. Sinha then said: “It is very easy to say you don’t have enforcement agencies. It is like saying if you cannot stop rape, you enjoy it.”

In the next sentence, Mr. Sinha added: “It is better to have something, legalise it, and earn some revenue rather than throwing up your hands and letting things happen.”

Women’s rights advocates attacked the reference to rape among these apparently contradictory remarks — advocating changing laws to accommodate unstoppable behaviour; keeping laws in place irrespective of enforcement capacity; and earning revenue from unstoppable behaviour. Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo member Brinda Karat said it was “sickening that a man, who is in charge of several rape investigations, should use such an analogy. He should be prosecuted for degrading and insulting women.”

Misinterpreted: CBI

The CBI, however, said an off-the-cuff remark was being misinterpreted. “The context of the Director’s remarks is important,” a spokesperson for the CBI told The Hindu . “The Director’s point was only that if laws cannot be enforced, it does not mean they should not be there at all.”

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