President signs anti-rape ordinance
New Delhi, Feb 3 : Amid its disapproval by the women groups, President of India Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday signed the anti-rape law ordinance based on some of the recommendations of Justice Verma panel, after the government tried to quell the opposition to the same by holding that it was open to consultations and changes.
The ordinance, that came into effect as soon as President Pranab Mukherjee signed it, will need to be passed by the Parliament within six months and is likely to be done in the Budget Session that begins on Feb 21.
Foreign minister Salman Khurshid said when the Parliament was not in session, all you could do was bring an ordinance. "It does not mean that widespread consultation cannot take place when the actual bill is brought into parliament," he said.
Law minister Ashwani Kumar also echoed Khurshid's views and said the government would be happy to review the ordinance if required.
"There may be difference of perception but a lot of effort has gone into it (the ordinance)," reports quoted him as saying.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat on Saturday said her party disapproved the new anti-rape law ordinance that was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday.
"We disapprove of the ordinance," Karat told media on Saturday.
"The content of the ordinance is doing injustice to the Justice Verma recommendations because it is highly selective in what it has included in the ordinance," she said.
"And in fact what it has included in some parts also is against what Justice Verma has recommended. We don't agree with this ordinance," Karat said.
Meanwhile, women right's groups also rejected the ordinance and had urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to sign it.
Human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover told media: "The ordinance is complete betrayal of the faith that people had put in the government."
"The President should not sign this ordinance," she said earlier.
The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared the new anti-rape law ordinance that mandates tougher jail terms for crimes against women, including the death penalty for extreme cases of sexual assault.
The ordinance incorporates some of the recommendations of the Justice Verma commission but ignores others such as cognizance of marital rape and amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Flaying the law enforcers and calling for police reforms, the Justice Verma Committee tasked by the government to suggest stringent laws against sexual violence submitted its "path-breaking" recommendations on Jan 23 to the Home Ministry, calling for enhancement of punishment to life sentence for the crime while stopping short of awarding death penalty.
The three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma submitted its report to the government a month after it was formed following a national outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a Delhi bus on December 16 and her subsequent death from the injuries.
Justice Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanian, are the other two members of the committee.