March 20, 2013
Kalyan Banerjee speaks on Bill for Consideration and Passing Criminal Law (Amendment)
Excerpts of the speech of Trinamool Chef Whip in Lok Sabha, Mr Kalyan Banerjee
Madam, in respect of this Bill along with the amendments which have been brought from the side of the Government after discussion yesterday, broadly we welcome the Bill itself. But this should have been discussed amongst the Chief Ministers of the various States. They are the implementing agency. It is being done very expeditiously but much discussion is needed in this Bill. Every citizen including a woman is having the right to live with the dignity and honour which is guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution. Sexual harassment like even eve-teasing of woman amounts to violation of rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India which comes under the Equality clause. For meaningful right within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution, every woman is entitled to elimination of obstacles and discrimination based on gender for her development. Women are entitled to enjoy economic, social, cultural and political rights without discrimination. The primary concern both at international and at the national level is about devastating increase in rape cases and cases relating to crime against woman. India is no exception to that. Sexual violence is not only an unlawful invasion of the right of privacy and sanctity of the woman but a serious blow to the honour. It leaves a traumatic and humiliating impression for her conscience, offending her self-esteem and dignity. Rape is not only a crime against woman; it is a crime against the entire society itself. It leaves a scar on the most cherished possession of woman, that is, her dignity, honour, reputation and not the least her chastity. It destroys entire psychology of a woman and pushes her into deep emotional crisis. It is a crime against basic human rights and also violates the victim’s cherished rights. In that context, today is a very important day because this Bill has come. This Bill is most demanding Bill which has come today. It really needs support in the sense of the term but here we have certain points. We have given certain amendments. Those amendments are also similar to the amendments of the Government.
Madam, experience says that these types of offenses are sometimes seriously abused. Today, the experience says that the offenses in relation to clauses 490 and 498A of the Indian Penal Code are seriously abused in our country itself. This should not be abused. If it is abused, it would be totally insignificant. If it is not abused, if it is properly exercised in proper cases, it will really uphold the dignity and the right of the woman itself. What I believe is that one’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered. Therefore, if woman wants to keep her dignity in the country itself, she must resist herself from lodging unnecessary complaints. She should not abuse the power which has been in the Act itself. The Experience of clause 498A is extremely bad. A very stringent Act has come in respect of the clause 376. That should be one but the point is that the implementation is needed. From the House, we can pass a Bill but implementation is rested with the implementing agency. We are having a sufficient law. Shri Mulayam Ji was telling just now. Yes, we are having a sufficient law. But the unfortunate part is that implementation is not being done. The implementing agency should be very much cautioned and respective States should come up with an appropriate law in service matters. If the implementing agency does not implement the Act itself, they should proceed against implementing officer itself.
Madam, today, there is a need for a wide circulation of these laws. We have seen that various amendments have come for the age to be from 16 years to 18 years, with consent. Even with consent, as the law stands today, if an amendment comes, it will be 18 years. If there is any physical contact, that would be coming within the purview of the rape itself. How many children know about this law?
Therefore, this law has to be circulated. It is not enough if just the law has been passed. But a wide circulation of this law is required to be made. People have to be made educated in respect of this law itself from the village to the top level, whether he or she is uneducated or educated. A wide circulation of this law is needed. People of this country are to be educated. I propose one thing. Up to 18 years of age, even a physical relationship comes within the purview of the rape. I, therefore, propose that a course should be introduced in the appropriate institution for the children above the age of 14 years mentioning about the offenses. They must know what the offenses are. The children do not know about the offenses. There cannot be any excuse for a rapist in this country. If a rapist is there, he should be properly punished. When it is required, he should be hanged. In the case of, first time offense, it should be up to 14 years; in the case of second time offense, it may be a life imprisonment till natural death or death penalty. In the case of gang rape, the punishment should be either life imprisonment or the death itself. I feel that is needed for the purpose to protect the dignity of our country, to protect the children of our country. One of the Members has said about the daughters. We feel that our daughters are our Lakshmis in our houses. I feel proud that my wife has given birth to a daughter first. I feel proud for that. That is the reason; we give respect to the women itself. It is an unfortunate thing that a few persons are misusing this thing and simultaneously .001 per cent of the women are also misusing these laws. This is a very unfortunate part of our country. This has to be stopped. I just conclude by saying that this crime is a very heinous crime. The law has to be applied stringently. The Executive Agency should apply the law. There should not be any mercy for the rapist. At the same time, I would ask as to how this law would be implemented. I would like to know whether it would be implemented significantly in our country or not. It rests with the women herself. If a woman comes with a false complaint, if they abuse this as a power, this law would remain only in paper. No one can help them. With this, I conclude.