NATIONAL

Bills to empower women to be introduced

NEW DELHI Nov.13. The Union Cabinet has decided to introduce three major pieces of legislation — two relating to women's empowerment and one to removing certain anomalies in the Transfer of Property Act. The Bills will be introduced in the winter session of Parliament starting next week.

Announcing the decisions on Tuesday, the Union Minister and Cabinet spokesperson, Sushma Swaraj, said that while one legislation would tighten the Representation of People's Act to curb `Sati' more effectively, the other would prevent accused in rape cases from escaping by questioning the character of the victim.

Under the Bill relating to the R.P. Act, the section relating to disqualification of candidates from contesting elections would be amended to ensure that no person who was convicted under the Prevention of Sati Act was allowed to contest in an election, irrespective of the period of the sentence imposed. At present, persons convicted under the Sati Act were debarred from fighting elections only if their sentence was for more than six months.

As regards the other decision relating to protection of the interest of rape victims, Section 155 (4) of the Indian Evidence Act, which provides that in a prosecution for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that the victim was of generally immoral character, would be repealed. As an additional safeguard, a new proviso would also be added to the Act which would provide that it shall not be permissible to even put questions during the cross examination as to the character of the victims. As per the third decision relating to the Transfer of Property Act, the Cabinet decided that the Act be amended to have an express provision that the period of notice under Section 106 of the Act shall commence from the date of its receipt. The law settled by the Supreme Court provides that the date on which the notice is served under the Section is required to be excluded while computing the notice period. However, a number of suits have been filed in ignorance of this legal position.

The new amendment would have retrospective effect so that it would also be applicable to pending suits and proceedings and notices issued before the law came into effect.

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