Government defends ordinance, promises debate

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) The government Monday defended its ordinance on sexual crimes and said it was based on universal demand and was open to public suggestions as parliament would debate the issue.

"The ordinance is only the starting point of a legislative process. I appeal everyone to allow the process to be completed in the budget session," Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said at a news conference here.

"The government came to the conclusion that there was a strong case for the ordinance in view of universal demand by people. The government welcomes suggestions from public to replace the ordinance with a bill in parliament," he said.

"There will be discussions with political parties. These consultations will afford ample opportunity to make changes in the ordinance. The bill passed by parliament will reflect the broadest possible consensus on the imperative and urgent need to have an effective law to protect women and to punish crimes against women," he added.

The clarification came a day after President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the ordinance despite appeals from women's groups to wait till there was a broader consensus on issues related to women's safety.

Stating that the government had tried to act promptly on Justice Verma's recommendations, Chidambaram said: "The ordinance will have a deterrent effect on potential criminals during the period between now and the date on which the new law will be enacted by parliament."

However, the finance minister agreed there were "difficult issues" arising out of the suggestions made by the panel headed by former Supreme Court chief justice J.S. Verma.

On reservations expressed by women's groups on certain issues, Chidambaram said the government has not included some clauses recommended by the Justice Verma panel but had not rejected anything.

"Some clauses like AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), marital rape and lowering the age of juveniles need more discussions," he said.

Talking about the benefits of the ordinance, Chidambaram said: "The amendments are intended to protect a victim's dignity, curb police excesses and facilitate better evidence recording."

"These provisions will ensure fair and speedy trial of such cases and more stringent punishment to the convicted people," said Chidambaram.

Calling on all political parties to support the government in getting the bill passed, Chidambaram said: "I hope other parties see this in a sensitive manner. I request the opposition to help us build broader consensus on anti-rape laws."

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said: "If there are objections, the government will look into them with a positive framework and take into consideration whatever is necessary."

The ordinance calls for enhanced punishment in cases of crimes against women, including sexual assault, acid attacks, voyeurism and trafficking and prescribes death in rare cases.

The ordinance was largely based on the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, set up by the government Dec 23, 2012, in the wake of the public outrage over the gruesome gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman Dec 16, who died 13 days later.

The panel submitted its report to the government Jan 23.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Trott to take 'immediate break' from cricket

Trott to take 'immediate break' from cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »