BJP reiterates demand for special session, Congress rejects it

New Delhi, Dec 31 (IANS) The BJP Monday reiterated its demand for a special session of parliament to discuss the Dec 16 gang-rape and for strengthening anti-rape laws but the Congress rejected it, saying the BJP was trying to politicise the issue.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj said: "I had asked the prime minister to call a special session (of parliament). But my demand was rejected.

"I also asked them to call an all-party meet. That demand was also rejected," she said, adding: "Even if they don't call a special session, the Budget session should be used for amending all laws for protecting women."

"Whether it is in the special session, or budget session, some days should be dedicated completely so that laws related to crime against women are made stringent," said the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

The BJP leader said only if action is taken will it be a "real tribute" to the gang-rape victim who died in a Singapore hospital Saturday.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley also said that legislators should meet as soon as possible to amend anti-rape laws.

The Congress, however, accused the BJP of trying to politicise the issue.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told IANS: "This issue is not an issue that should be politicised. The BJP is trying to politicise the issue.

On the BJP's demand for a special session, he said: "They are demanding a special session of parliament. This is no secret that when parliament is in session, they never allow parliament to function and when parliament is not in session, they are demanding it. It is very strange."

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram too rejected the demand for a special session, saying a three-member panel headed by former chief justice of India J.S. Verma was looking into the various aspects of amending the anti-rape laws.

"A special session is called when you have to pass a law. A special session makes sense only after we get a report. Let us first get the report, and then decide when parliament meets," he said.

The BJP was not the only one to make the demand.

Former army chief Gen. (retd) V.K. Singh, too, demanded a special session of parliament. "We need a special session, and I don't understand why the government is not calling it, just because the opposition has made a demand for it," he said at a press conference.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said the pending laws against sexual harassment and the amendments and suggestions should be worked on for passage.

The Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010 was passed by the Lok Sabha in September.

He also said India lacked judges to man fast-track courts and had very few policemen.

"The Law Commission has said around 20 years ago that for every lakh of population there should be five judges. Now it is 1.4 judges for a lakh of population," said the CPI-M leader.

"We have very few policemen, especially women. The UN says that there should be 350 policemen for every lakh of population," he added.

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