Saturday, January 2, 2010

Law Minister Moily talks tough on new molestation law, where's the bite!

Wasn't my country already so beautiful, that we need more and more laws to protect the weak and downtrodden! Now there is a proposal to make molestation into a cognizable and non-bailable offence. A cognizable offence means that police can arrest without warrant. A non-bailable offence means that bail is not matter of right of the accused but can be granted by judicial magistrate. For more information on bail read here.

Previously the maximum jail term for molestation was 2 years. I would first like the government to give statistics on molestation cases filed all over India, and percentage of convictions, along with amount of jail term. If you guessed it by now, such statistics don't exist; or the government cannot be bothered anyway by previous experiences and statistics! After all -- the weak must be protected. And what better way to do that than increase the punishment and make it non-bailable, never mind the conviction rates, and the fact that a recent molestation case in the country took 19 years to decide!

Here is the news with my comments:

The government will soon make molestation a non-bailable offence, increasing the maximum imprisonment for the crime from two to five years.

The draft Sexual Offences (Special Courts) Bill, 2010 — prepared by the law ministry — and currently awaiting the home ministry assent, also defines what constitutes molestation much more sharply than at present.

It proposes allowing the police to arrest a person accused of the crime without a warrant. A simple complaint from the victim will be enough.

Comments: And what is proposed to be done if the complainant happens to be a 14 year old girl, and the accused happens to be a high-ranking police official? Will you arrest the police official immediately and throw him behind bars based on the simple complaint? Or will it require permission from government to prosecute the police officer?

“Tough measures are required to deter sexual offences against women,” Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily told Hindustan Times. “Following the shocking Ruchika case, it is clear that molestation needs to be treated as a serious sexual offence as rape.”

Comments: Holy intentions all these! Except for the fact that the record on conviction for rape cases itself is not good. So what great expectations can public have merely from passing of a law which makes molestation as serious as rape!

The bill seeks to modify relevant sections of both the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.

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