Thursday, October 28, 2004

Protecting Women and Aged


by Dinkar Shukla

A day before adjourning at the end of the monsoon session, the Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly passed two noteworthy social sector legislations. Both were sponsored by the government. One of these seeks to enhance penal provisions for specified crimes against women.The other legislative measure is meant to enable grandparents as well to claim maintenance allowance in cases where they have no surviving children to support them in their extreme penury.

The first piece of legislation has apparently been brought in the wake of the shocking case of disrobing, parading and gangraping of three Dalit women of a family at Bhomatola village of Seoni district of the state in the second week of July, this year.

Bringing the amending legislation to make stringent penal provisions in the law in less than a month after the incident took place shows the anxiety and concern of the state government regarding the growing cases of violence against women.

The offshoot of the government's thinking was the Indian Penal Code (MP amendment) bill. The amendment seeks to make crimes against women's honour, such as disrobing. parading and criminal assault, a non-bailable offense. More importantly, it prescribes a jail term of not less than one and up to ten years for such an offence.

Originally, the provision of maximum jail term was only up to two years. The amendment also lays down that such cases will henceforth be filed in the sessions court. Earlier, such cases were initially brought before the magistrate.

In the absence of the Congress Opposition, which was boycotting the House proceedings at the time, the bill was passed in a quick go after a brief discussion. Members participating in the discussion regretted that oppressed class females were usually victims of such atrocious crimes.

A member recalled the shameful episode of an elected mahila sarpanch of the Dalit class who was subjected to misconduct by upper caste villagers for daring to unfurl the national flag on Republic Day.

The state department of woman and child welfare is working out a plan in consultation with the women's rights council. It is also proposed to entrust cases relating to crimes against women's honour to fast track courts. Besides, the police department is being instructed to register complaints relating to crimes against women promptly and unfailingly."

Source: Navhind Times, October 28, 2004

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