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

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Ordained by Politics

The ordinance amending criminal law on sexual violence does not reflect any real concern for women.

This is a government in a hurry. It wants to demonstrate that it is responsive to people’s demands. It claims credit for appointing the Justice Verma Committee within days of the horrific 16 December 2012 gang rape of a young woman in Delhi. But no credit is due to it for the speed with which the Verma Committee produced its path-breaking report despite the lack of adequate logistical support and cooperation from government departments. And now, well before people could digest the important recommendations of the Verma Committee, the government has pushed through an ordinance amending the criminal law. Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram claims the ordinance was in response to “a universal demand that the laws must be amended immediately”. While the Verma Committee did recommend promulgation of an ordinance, how many such “universal demands” has the government responded to with such alacrity in the past?

If one looks at the contents of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, signed by the President of India on 3 February, it is clear that the intention is not a serious consideration of the Verma Committee’s recommendations, but an easy route to satisfy the growing response for “action”. While no one, least of all women’s groups, want the government to sit on the Verma Committee report and let it gather dust, as do most such reports, the need for an ordinance such as the one promulgated by the government is unjustified on every count barring populism.

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