DR. T.N. SEEMA (KERALA): Madam, I support the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, on behalf of my party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist). But, Madam, I would like to express my disappointment and dissatisfaction about the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, and which is being discussed by us now. I am disappointed because I don’t think that this Government has made sincere efforts to consider very important and relevant recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. Actually, if there had been a pinch of sincerity, they would not have ignored and neglected the main recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee. Madam, I take this opportunity to sincerely appreciate the Justice Verma Committee for considering and addressing the real issue of increasing gender violence in our society. But, unfortunately, the Government missed the chance to become the champion of change in the lives of crores of women in this country. Madam, the Verma Committee had done a tremendous job by bringing out a comprehensive Report. But what happened? Nothing! This Bill is not carrying the spirit of Justice Verma Committee’s recommendations. So, I express my dissatisfaction over this.
Madam, I have moved many amendments for the Bill, but I do not want to go through all the amendments. Here, I would like to point out certain important issues. Madam, my first point is about the age of consent. Here, I would like to add one provision, namely, “Provided that consent shall be a valid defence if the complainant is between sixteen years and eighteen years of age and the accused person is not more than five years older”. Why do we demand this change? We, parents, don’t want our children to get into relationships and end up in sexual relationships. But the social reality is that there are many instances of consensual sexual activity between girls in the age range of sixteen to eighteen, and boys may be the same age or may be a couple of years older. Will it not lead to injustice, if these young boys are prosecuted for rape? How can we send our young boys to jail for being in love or for biological infatuation? In many such cases, we have seen that if the girl’s family is influential or they are rich or they belong to higher caste, and if the boy belongs to a poor Dalit family, definitely, the boy will end up in jail or in juvenile home. It is, therefore, suggested that such consensual activity should be exempted from the purview of statutory rape provided that the accused is not more than five years older. We must protect fundamental rights of youth, including the right to choice and sexual autonomy and agency.
(Contd. by 1z-kls)
DR. T.N. SEEMA (CONTD): My next point is about Section 375 of the IPC. There is an exception statement, Exception 2. It says that 'sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.' This Section should be deleted. What is this? The Government wants to give legal sanction to the husbands to have forced sex on their wives. We know that at times sex is used as a weapon to make women surrender, make them weak even in the marital relationship. What Justice Verma Committee Report says about exemption of marital rate in the 2012 Bill is that it stems from a long outdated notion of marriage which regarded wives as no more than the property of their husbands. This clause is against the provisions of the Indian Constitution which considers women as equal human beings and who have the right to live with dignity and be free from violence within or outside the marriage. Many people share the anxiety that if the marital rape is included, their family structure will be disturbed. I do not know whether it is justified to demand a sacrifice from women in this manner. How can we protect family structure if it continues to be patriarchal all built upon the sufferings of women? So, if we want a firm and a very good family structure, then make it democratic and for that we have to teach our men and our boys to consider women as human beings who have rightful right over their bodies and their lives. My next amendment is on Section 376(2) sub-section (k). It is about crime committed by persons in positions. Actually, the earlier proposed Bill of 2010 had added that if rape is committed by a person in a position of social, economic and political dominance, it would be considered as aggravated form of an offence. But the present Bill completely dilutes the suggestion and removes the words, 'social, economic, and political'.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): Dr. Seema, you are running out of time. ...(Interruptions)..
DR. T.N. SEEMA: Madam, please. ...(Interruptions).. We rarely get time to speak on women. ...(Interruptions)... Why was it removed? Why is the Government not prepared to directly address the issue of increasing violence on women by people who are in political positions? They exploit women very easily and escape by using their political influence. There are many recent cases - I do not want to name anybody - in which we have seen that many people who are in higher positions, political and social, exploit women, not only women, but even minor girls. But they escape very easily by using their political influence. Actually, they bypass the democratic system in the country, they bypass the legal system. They challenge the legal system in this country. But, what about the victims?
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): Dr. Seema, please conclude.
DR. T.N. SEEMA: They are living in isolation in our country fighting, fighting and fighting expecting that they will get justice. That is the irony which I would like to express. Madam, Verma Committee recognizes the class, caste and gender discrimination existing in our society, but the Government has shown its incapability of recognizing the complexity and depth of the gender discrimination by missing the vulnerable sections of our society, that is, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. So, Madam, I request, through you, to the hon. Minister that rapes by higher caste men on the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes women should be considered as an aggravated form of rape. Section 376B, ...(Interruptions)... One minute, Madam. Section 376B, which prescribes a lesser period of imprisonment for rape on a separated wife, clause should be deleted. Why should there be a lesser punishment for this crime? A separated wife means, maybe, she is waiting for a divorce, that is, separation for ever. What is the authority of a man to have forced sex on his separated wife? That clause should be deleted and get out of the patriarchal mindset and see women as individuals..
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): Thank you, Dr. Seema. I have to call the next speaker. ...(Interruptions)...
DR. T.N. SEEMA: Madam, my last point is this. ...(Interruptions).. I was happy that you are there. ...(Interruptions)..
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): It does not mean that we do not observe discipline. ...(Interruptions)...
DR. T.N. SEEMA: Lastly, I would like to humbly remind the hon. Minister again about the important reforms recommended by the Justice Verma Committee with regard to judiciary and police. No legislation can bring any change in the existing system unless the delivery mechanism gets revamped. We are saying it again and again during so many other discussions. I am not going into the rape data. ...(Interruptions).. This is my last sentence. ...(Interruptions).. How are you going to make the system work? That is the challenge the Government has to take. Women do not want any more women rhetoric of 'golden era' or 'goddesses'. We do not want any empty promises. We are fed up with these jargons and clichés.
(Contd by 2A/USY)
DR. T.N. SEEMA (CONTD.):We want accountability; we want responsibility; we want sincerity from the Government. And, we need concrete action.
श्री देरेक ओब्राईन (पश्चिमी बंगाल) : “बेटा हुआ, बेटा हुआ, बेटा हुआ।” "A Boy is born, a boy is born, a boy is born." This is the 2nd of July, 1972. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi have signed the Simla Accord. And, a message has to be sent on telex to Delhi. So, the message's code is ' बेटा हुआ, बेटा हुआ, बेटा हुआ' if the Agreement is signed successfully; if, by chance, the Agreement was unsuccessful, then, the planned coded message was 'बेटी हुई, बेटी हुई, बेटी हुई।' This is the situation. That's why, perhaps, there has been so much of confusion also that the Congress-led UPA Government has been totally confused in the last 3-4 months because if you look, in December, there was the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, then, there was an unfortunate rape in Delhi, then, the Verma Committee, which did such a wonderful job in just three weeks, was constituted, then, we had an Ordinance in 2013, which had no mention of the word 'rape' in it. Then, we come to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013. In three months, we have come to three dissimilar legislations. So, I just begin to wonder: Do they legislate in haste and repent in leisure, just like they did in the TADA? But, over all, I would say that party is happy with this 'reasonably' good law. And, I would like to appeal to so many of my friends in the Media also not to please make it a debate between 18 and 16 because it has suddenly become the focus of the debate. It is beyond 18 and 16.
Madam, let me focus on some of the good things in this law. Because of the limited time, I would go through each one of them very quickly. First, of course, is broadening the definition of 'rape'. In added words, penile intercourse is not the only way of rape because there have been some sordid stories in the last ten years or so about all kinds of instruments being penetrated into women's vagina. So, that's great that the definition of 'rape' has been truly broadened. On 'consent', one has an explanation. And, this is very, very welcome. And, I will tell you why. Otherwise, a woman had to actually prove either through marks on her body or scratches. So, at least, now, there is a comfort where she does not need to go and prove this. The downside of that is, "Is this a loose woman?" Because you don't have any marks, you have, kind of, invited me. That's a very positive sign. The third one, which we find extremely positive, is on the new offences. These include disrobing, we have been reading in newspapers that dalit women are often disrobed; acid attack, we keep talking about what happened in December, but I take Members back to one case, it was a very, very brave girl, called Sonali Shakti, the girl on whose face acid had been thrown and her whole life got changed; stalking and voyeurism. Good! I know a lot of people are scared that the offences of voyeurism and stalking will trap innocent men. And, to be frank, there are some reasons to be of little concern about this. But, over all, when we are talking about observing a woman, think of that woman who goes to an open toilet, somewhere on the fields, and there is somebody waiting for this. So, I think, we should look at 'stalking' and ' voyeurism' in the broader sense. And, if the men here are a little bit scared that this will be misused, I am sure, we have a belief in the ladies of India that this will not be misused and this will be a positive, positive development. There are issues of stalking and voyeurism. But, I think, over all, it is very good. Look at the case of Priyadarshini Mattoo. We need to understand one thing, rape is the top of the pyramid. A man does not rape a woman suddenly in one night. You build it up from the bottom of the pyramid. How many girls or boys have not been groped in a bus, in a city?
(Contd. by 2b – PB)
SHRI DEREK O’BRIEN (CONTD.):I will make an honest confession, Madam. When I was 13, I was groped in a Kolkata bus. What do you do? You don’t feel like telling anybody. But the idea here is, there has to be that social awareness, and this is not just passing a law. The social awareness has to come like I gave you the example of the bus. If you see somebody in a bus, who has been groped, the lady first needs to scream out loud and, then people will be socially aware. The schools have a role to play; the media have a role to play, and also the implementing authorities. Now when I say implementing authorities, here again, the Government has rushed through this because there is also the question of funding; there is money involved. The States will handle this. But, I am afraid, the States were not given enough time, 72 hours to reply. So, I think the Government will need to put its money where its mouth is. If it really wants to create a social awareness, it needs to earmark some funds to make this social awareness possible.
There is one more quick point that I want to make on hospitals. That’s good. There is a good and there is a bad. The good part is that the woman who is in a traumatic state does not need to go to a hospital and register an FIR. It is good. The hospital needs to do the FIR. But the dangerous part is – and, here, please take note of it – that the Government will have to spell out a reimbursement formula for practitioners. Otherwise, I am afraid, this provision, every time, will be challenged in court! I will conclude.
Madam, the three most favourite people in my life are all women – my mother, my wife and my daughter; and they have been listening to this and I have been talking to them. I said, ‘What would you like to be?’ You know we talk about women being deified, they are Gods, they are sisters, they are mothers; all very well. They need to be what they really are. They are half the earth; they are half the sky. We owe to all these women. Let’s make them citizens of India. Thank you.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): Thank you very much, more for sticking to your time. It is very good. Now, Jaya Bachchanji.
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN: Madam, last time when I was given an opportunity, I resisted because I was time-bound. Please don’t do it.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): No, no, you are still time-bound. Your time is six minutes. Please speak for six minutes.
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN: No; I am sorry. I am not going to accept that.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): That’s your free will if you don’t want to speak. But the rule applies to every person in this House. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN: Throw me out of the House. But I will speak. I am trying my best to keep it ...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): Please start speaking. Don’t waste your time like that.
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN: I am not wasting my time.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (SHRIMATI RENUKA CHOWDHURY): You have six minutes. Please start.
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN (UTTAR PRADESH): Madam, because of the time constraints, I am not going to go into the details of the Bill. I will go by the spirit of the Bill. I would like to point out some very serious points that have just been discussed here. श्री सतीश मिश्रा जी ने अभी बताया ...(व्यवधान) श्री सतीश मिश्रा जी ने बताया कि people in high positions, whether in Parliament or outside Parliament, misuse their position. कल एक ऐसा हादसा हुआ कि पार्लियामेंट के एक बहुत सीनियर मेम्बर ने एक लेडी मीडिया पर्सन के ऊपर बहुत गलत टिप्पणी की, और this is done after the Bill that has been passed in the Lok Sabha. The Parliamentarian is from Lok Sabha. I am just bringing this to your notice to tell you how ineffective you are. This is an eyewash. हड़बड़ी में आप इस बिल को लाए हैं, लेकिन यह बिल हड़बड़ी में नहीं आना चाहिए था। इसके लिए आपको wide spectrum of people से बात करनी चाहिए थी, उनकी राय लेनी चाहिए थी, उसके बाद इस बिल को लाना चाहिए था। What kind of disciplinary action are you going to take against such people? It’s a shame.
जिन्होंने मेहनत करके यह बिल रखा है या इसकी तैयारी की है, मैं उनकी प्रशंसा करती हूं, but I have reservations. आप बहुत देर से आए, लेकिन दुरुस्त नहीं आए। I am sorry. I have been asked to support this Bill by my Party, and since I am a sincere Party worker, I will support it.
(Contd. by 2c/SKC)
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN (CONTD.): But, on an individual basis, I have many, many reservations, because reality is different from what is on the papers. You cannot give justice; today, women have accepted it. You used patronizing words like ‘protection’; Women have accepted it. वे पल्लू झाड़ देते हैं कि अब तो ये लोग इसी तरह बात करते हैं। Talk about equality. You have gone into great lengths about how the sexual act should be. Now, everybody knows what a sexual act is. But you have not really spoken about actual justice, actually taking notice of what is going on, complaining and speeding up the justice process. It is a pity that we have not been able to prove that we mean business, even after three-and-a-half months of what happened in the Capital of this country, by just giving speedy justice. You are talking about juvenile age. It is really crazy that in order to show that there is a juvenile who has committed a certain crime, you are presenting a school age certificate. It is ironic. The Government did not accept the school certificate for proving the age of a Chief of the Army, but, very readily, accepted the school certificate of the so-called juvenile, who was the most barbaric and violent of the lot in the December 16 incident. This shows our seriousness. Anybody, a boy or a girl, who is capable of getting into a sexual act, has no age, not today, not in this generation. So, let us not play with age and with words. Let us punish if someone has to be punished. You are talking about consent in marriage. Please do not get carried away by what you see in cinema -- सुहागरात में म्यूजिक बज रहा है, फूल लगे हुए हैं। Most of the time, in the rural areas, especially, when a marriage takes place, whatever happens, how are you going to prove that the woman has given her consent? She has not even looked at the man she is married to, forget the next part of the act! So, this consent is, again, funny. Now, let us come to ‘stalking’. What is stalking? How is a girl going to prove that she has been stalked? She just goes to the police station and tells, ‘मुझे स्टॉकिंग की जा रही है।’ जब पूछा जाएगा कि वे कैसे कर रहे हैं, तो आप इसे कैसे प्रूव करेंगी? आपको चार लोग चाहिए, जिन्होंने देखा है कि आपकी स्टॉकिंग हो रही है। It is humiliating; it is really humiliating. And then, that is bailable and so, अगर किसी बड़े घर का लड़का स्टॉक करेगा, तो उसकी बेल हो जाएगी। The girl then gets totally discouraged and the next time, he would commit a crime; he would rape the girl. There are many such incidents. I know of a recent incident that has happened in Mumbai. Madam, a Minister’s son has raped a girl. I know this case because the girl had come to me personally. She said, ‘I don’t know what to do. If I tell my parents, they are going to throw me out of the house; they will disown me. If I go to the police, they will not take recognition because he is the son of a Minister. What do I do? On top of that, I have to go through medical examination.’ And a medical examination is most humiliating after a rape, because that examination is horrible. You know the process and the detail. ‘I do not have the mental strength to go through it. What do I do?’
(CONTD. BY HK/2D)
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN (CONTD.): I thought that, maybe, after this Bill is passed, I will go and tell her what she should do. But I am sorry, I don't think ...(Interruptions)...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (DR. E.M. SUDARSANA NATCHIAPPAN) in the Chair.
According to me, यह जो बिल है, इसमें एक बहुत बड़ी गलती है और वह यह है कि यह पुरुष विरोधी बिल है। In order to give justice to one sex, you cannot be unfair to the other. So, I think that this is something you need to look into because this can be misused. Stalking is done not by men alone; stalking is done by women also. Every second day you hear a girl say, 'Oh, he is so hot'. These are also very, very wrong things. So, Sir, please look into this. This is very important. Please do not do justice to the one part of the society, leaving the other part. Your recommendation on acid attack should be considered as 'murder' because the intention of the attack is to kill or destroy. 'To destroy' means 'to kill'. Please do not look at it in a lenient manner. It needs to be punished. The person who commits the crime needs to be called a 'murderer' and he should get the same punishment as a rapist or as a murderer gets. सर, मुझे ज्यादा बोलने का समय नहीं है, जब कि मैं बहुत कुछ बोलना चाहती थी। ..(व्यवधान)..
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (DR. E.M. SUDARSANA NATCHIAPPAN):Actually, all of us have decided to pass the Bill today. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRIMATI JAYA BACHCHAN: I know what you are going to say. ...(Interruptions)... आप लोग आवाज़ तो यहीं दबा देते हैं, बाहर क्या बोलेंगे, anyway. I am totally confused because I have prepared certain points. सर, जब मैं इसके बारे में सोचती हूँ कि हमारे समाज में इस तरह की चीजें क्यों हो रही हैं और यह मीडिया में ज्यादा आ रहा है। अब आप किसी पालटिशन्स से पूछिए या पार्लियामेन्टेरियन से पूछिए या मिनिस्टर से पूछिए, तो वे कहेंगे कि आज कल मीडिया वाले ला रहे हैं, यह तो पहले भी आता था। So, the attitude is very casual. यह तो पहले भी हुआ करता था, मगर ये मीडिया वाले आज कल इसको बहुत हाइलाइट कर रहे हैं। This kind of attitude should really be controlled. When people talk so irresponsibly, thank God that the media is bringing focus into such crimes. That is why we have been compelled to stand and talk today about this. And the days are not very far, Sir, when justice is not done to women they will all become Phoolan Devi and Putli Bai. उत्तर प्रदेश में गुलाबी गैंग के बारे में आपने सुना ही होगा। Women are going to take laws into their own hands. ऊपर से आपने पेपर स्प्रै को भी चीप करा दिया। These are such patronizing acts. कभी-कभी मैं सोचती हूँ कि आज समाज ऐसे क्यों है? मुझे याद है कि जब we were born after Independence. When we were growing up, we heard of such great stories about our leaders. महात्मा गांधी जी ने अपने नॉन वायलैंस मूव्मेंट से देश को आज़ादी दिलाई। बहुत बड़े-बड़े नेता उनके साथ थे और आज़ादी दिलाने में उन्होंने बहुत कुछ किया, उन्होंने अपनी जानें गंवाईं। Do we have any such ideal in front of our youth today? अगर कोई इस तरह की पोजीशन में आना भी चाहता है, तो हमारी सोसाइटी आज ऐसी बन गई है, we have a crab mentality; we try to pull them down. Therefore, we have no heroes.