Bhopal: Done in haste, ill-conceived and prone to grave misuse. This is how the Congress party MLAs described the bill making rape with girls below 12 years of age punishable with death.

Expressing their views during discussion on the bill in state assembly on Monday, the opposition party MLAs also claimed that “terror-stricken men being persecuted by women are rotting in jails and committing suicide and no one is talking about their safety.”  However, the Congress party did not oppose the bill saying that though the legislation has shortcomings, the intention behind it is good. The assembly passed the bill unanimously on Monday. The ruling party members who participated in the debate showered praises on chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for introducing the measure.

Congress party MLA Govind Singh who was first to speak on the bill said that it will be misused with impunity. “Suppose a woman is going to a temple and a man is also going to the same temple. What would happen if the woman goes to a police station and complains that she is being stalked?” he asked. Singh said that his apprehensions are not imaginary and hypothetical. “In Gwalior-Chambal region, it is common to frame one’s enemies or political rivals in criminal cases,” he said.

He also said that if the bill becomes a law, the rapists fearing death will kill victims. Another Congress MLA Ramniwas Rawat said that couples in love get married and then under pressure of her parents, the woman files a complaint of rape and abduction. “There have also been cases of names of innocent people being included in gang-rape complaints,” he remarked.

Another Congress MLA Sunderlal Tiwari launched the bitterest attack on the bill. He described it as “draconian, hasty, ill-conceived and extremely prone to misuse.” “Was any committee of experts constituted to prepare the bill? Did you hold any discussions with women’s organisations and other stake-holders? Did you study the J S Verma committee (formed after Nirbhaya case)?” he asked. Tiwari said that if Verma panel had not recommended capital punishment for rapes with minors, there must have been some reason, some logic behind it.

The BJP MLA Parul Sahu said that if Madhya Pradesh has registered the highest number of rapes, it indicates that women in state feel safe in police stations. Congress MLA Shailendra Patel said that only penal provisions cannot deter criminals. “We need to strike at roots. We need to study the psychology of the criminals. We need to find out to what extent substance abuse is responsible for such incidents,” he said.

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