Bhopal: The bill making rape or gang-rape with girls up to 12 years of age punishable with death, cleared by the Madhya Pradesh assembly at the initiative of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, may become a noose around the Centre’s neck. The bill has been sent for Presidential assent, which, for all practical purposes means the consent of the Union Government.
Chouhan may be interested in using the bill as a vote-gathering device but he has presented a Hobson’s choice before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh for, if they will reject the bill, they will be branded as anti-women by the opposition Congress.
After the passage of the bill, the state BJP and the state government has launched a campaign for branding it. Even before the legislation could be sent to the Union home minister through the Raj Bhawan, the women leaders of the BJP organised a mega felicitation programme for the chief minister at Bhopal on Thursday. Addressing the function, Chouhan made it clear that the government would publicise the measure in a big way. The BJP is tom-tomming the bill as if it has already become a law.
The state BJP also intends to launch a signature campaign to bring pressure to bear upon the Centre to clear the bill. The more the pressure, the greater will be mileage the Congress would get if the bill is rejected. The Central leaders, sensing the sensitivity of the issue, are yet to comment on the issue. Union law minister Ravishankar Prasad, during his recent visit to Bhopal, refrained from commenting on the measure.
Legal experts say that it would be next to impossible for the Centre to give its nod to the bill, which seeks to amend the IPC and the CrPC. Obviously, there cannot be two sets of laws for rapists in the country. Leader of opposition in the assembly Ajay Singh says that had the chief minister seriously wanted child rapists to be hanged, it would have requested the Centre to enact such a law, especially since his own party is ruling in Delhi. He said that the passage of the bill and the wide publicity being given to was just a clumsy attempt at earning brownie points.