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‘Ordinance bypasses all vital recommendations of Verma panel’

Bindu Shajan Perappadan
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Rights organisations urge Pranab not to sign the measure

Opposing the Centre’s decision to move an ordinance on criminal law amendments in respect of sexual violence, women’s organisations, civil society groups and women’s rights activists have appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee “not to sign” it.

Arguing that virtually all suggestions of the Justice Verma Committee, hailed as signs of a paradigm shift in understanding violence against women, and all the recommendations that could strike at the heart of impunity seemed to have been dropped, human rights activist and lawyer Vrinda Grover said on Saturday. “An ordinance like this, implemented by stealth, only serves to weaken our democracy and betrays the trust of the citizens.”

“We are alarmed at the complete lack of transparency on the part of the government in proposing an ordinance as an emergency measure. We wonder what objective and purpose will be served by such a hasty, non-transparent measure since the proposed law will not retrospectively apply to the Delhi gang rape case,” she said.

Addressing a press conference here, women’s rights activist Kavita Krishnan said: “The ordinance… goes against the spirit of the Verma Committee’s report.”

“While the Committee had suggested recognition of marital rape, new provisions on the offence of breach of command responsibility, non-requirement of sanction for prosecuting a member of the security forces accused of sexual assault and rape, and provision for trying them under ordinary criminal law for sexual crimes — none of this seems to have found place in the ordinance,” she said.

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