President signs ordinance on crime against women
President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday gave his assent to the Ordinance on sexual assault which was approved by the Union Cabinet two days ago. The changed law comes into force with immediate effect.
The changed law has provision of death penalty for cases of rape which lead to the victim's death or push her into a persistent vegetative state. The Ordinance sought to treat such case as a crime belonging to the "rarest-of-rare" category for which courts can award death punishment if they so decide.
For such cases, the ordinance proposes a minimum sentence of 20 years which can be extended to imprisonment until the natural life of the convict, or death. The changed law, which came into force on Sunday after being assented by the President, will now treat voyeurism, stalking, disrobing of women and acid attacks as specific offences under the Indian Penal Code. The change will raise 'eve-teasing' from being considered a minor offence to a serious crime attracting enhanced punishment.
The ordinance was rushed through to beat the notification of Parliament's budget session which is due to begin on February 21. The notification would have prevented the issuance of an ordinance. The government will now have to get it passed from the Parliament within six months of the Ordinance coming into effect. The government will bring these provisions as Bills during the Budget Session.
The President's assent to the Ordinance came even as opposition to its certain provisions from women's rights activists who are upset over the government's refusal to recognize marital rape as an offence, failure to hold command officers accountable for rapes by their subordinates and omission of rapes by armed forces as a category.
- Asian Tribune -