ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Amendments to Sati Act: A Question of Will

The union cabinet has sent back the proposed amendments to the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, to the ministry of women and child development for redrafting. The amendments which have been on the anvil since 2001 and had been nalised by a group of ministers in July this year, seek to treat the woman attempting sati as a victim rather than offender (as in the law at present), term sati as murder, increase the punishment for its glorication from a minimum of one to three years of rigorous imprisonment and a maximum of 10 years, and bring the priest who performs the ritual, the immediate relatives of the woman, the village pradhan and the district magistrate within its punitive jurisdiction.

The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act 1987 had been passed with hardly any debate or amendments within six months of the horror of September 4, 1987 when 17-year old Roop Kanwar was burnt alive on her husband’s pyre at Deorala village in Rajasthan’s Sikar district. The public outcry forced the Rajasthan legislature into promulgating an ordinance against sati, which later became a state act followed by the centre’s legislation.

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