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“Arrest Does Not Make Raja Guilty”, Says A Defiant DMK

Throwing its weight behind former Telecom Minister A Raja, the DMK on Thursday said his arrest does not prove his guilt in the 2G spectrum scam and accused opposition parties of targeting him to "malign" the party.  

The DMK's decision to stand by Raja came a day after he was arrested by the CBI with the party passing a resolution at its top decision making body's meeting, presided over by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi.

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Throwing its weight behind former Telecom Minister A Raja, the DMK on Thursday said his arrest does not prove his guilt in the 2G spectrum scam and accused opposition parties of targeting him to "malign" the party.  

The DMK's decision to stand by Raja came a day after he was arrested by the CBI with the party passing a resolution at its top decision making body's meeting, presided over by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi.

Accusing the opposition of blowing the 2G spectrum scam out of proportion, the DMK said their only evidence against Raja was the CAG report tabled in Parliament, which they were using to "malign" the party.

The CAG had given a similar report during the NDA regime also on the issue, but the opposition, which had successfully blocked functioning of Parliament during its last session, has again threatened to do so in the coming Budget Session, demanding a JPC probe into the issue, it said.

But when the earlier CAG report was tabled, there was no "such noise" from the then opposition, the resolution said. The opposition did not want the Public

Accounts Committee, which normally goes into such reports, the resolution said, pointing out that the PAC was headed by a BJP member (Murli Manohar Joshi).

There was no justification for the opposition to continue the protest as the probe by the CBI, which is under the Supreme Court's monitoring, has intensified investigation into the 2G scam and arrested Raja, the resolution said.

It also recalled the earlier statement of Karunanidhi that he would not hesitate to take action against Raja if he was really proved guilty, adding the party was "an open book."

League India Politics Desk
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CHANGE ON THE GROUND

President Gives Nod to Ordinance for Death Penalty for Rapists of Children Below 12

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

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NEW DELHI: President ram Nath Kovind promulgated The Criminal Law amendment ordinance, 2018 to amend Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act to pave way for a death penalty to those found guilty of raping children up to the age of 12 years.

The President’s nod to the ordinance came after the Union Cabinet’s approval yesterday for tightening the law against people involved in rape, following public outcry over cases of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua and Surat and the rape of a girl in Unnao.

“Whereas Parliament is not in session and the President is satisfied that the circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.

Earlier, the Cabinet on Saturday approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to amend Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 to introduce the death penalty for rape of children younger than 12 years.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

Several political leaders cutting across party lines hailed Centre’s move.

“Now, therefore, in an exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of article 123 of the Constitution, the President is pleased to promulgate the following ordinance,” the gazette notification said.

The ordinance stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years.

The death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.

The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from the rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

According to the ordinance, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts “natural life”.

The punishment for gangrape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.

Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.

Gangrape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death, it said.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act stand amended with the promulgation of the ordinance after the approval of the President.

The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial.The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.

The deadline for the completion of a trial in all rape cases will be two months.

A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

Enhancing the powers of the judiciary to provide stringent punishment in rape cases, the Union Cabinet had approved a number of measures, such as strengthening the prosecution, besides setting up new fast-track courts in consultation with the states and high courts concerned,  according to an official.

The National Crime Records Bureau will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders.

This data will be regularly shared with the states and the Union territories for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents of sex offenders by the police, the official said.

The present scheme of One Stop Centres for assistance to the victim will also be extended to all districts in the country.

 

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POLITICS-GOVERNANCE

In a Setback for Mamata, HC Directs State EC to Reschedule WB Panchayat Poll

The panchayat elections in West Bengal were earlier scheduled from May 1 to May 5 and the counting of votes was scheduled on 8 May.

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KOLKATA (West Bengal): The Calcutta High Court has quashed the State Election Commission’s (SEC) order cancelling the notification for extension of the deadline for filing nomination for panchayat polls in West Bengal and directed it to allow nominations by issuing a fresh notification.

Justice Subrata Talukdar held that petitions, filed by the BJP, CPM and other Opposition parties, challenging the cancellation of notification are maintainable and asked the poll panel to issue fresh notification extending the date for filing nominations.

The court directed the commission to reschedule the dates for panchayat election process and accordingly conduct the polls.

The panchayat elections in West Bengal were to be held in three phases from 1 May to 5 May and the counting of votes was scheduled on 8 May.

The nomination process for the panchayat polls ended on 9 April, but it was extended by a day by the SEC the same evening following a Supreme Court court order on petitions alleging that candidates backed by Opposition parties were being prevented from filing nominations.

The West Bengal government and ruling Trinamool Congress had objected to the extension by the SEC, which had cited a Supreme Court direction to “allay apprehensions of intending candidates” in its notification extending the nomination process by a day.

The notification, which referred to the apex court order, was withdrawn by the SEC on 10 April morning.

The BJP again moved the Supreme Court on 11 April and was directed to approach the high court with its grievances over the deadline for filing nominations.

The BJP moved the high court challenging the withdrawal and Justice Talukdar stayed the election process on 12 April.

Apart from the BJP, the CPM, PDS and the Congress too have moved the high court separately challenging the SEC’s decision.

The Commission and the ruling Trinamool Congress opposed the petitions claiming that these were not maintainable since the election process had started.

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DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE

Maneka Wants All Police Officers to be Re-Trained About Sexual Offences

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NEW DELHI: In a letter addressed to Chief Ministers of all the States/UTs, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development has outlined various steps to be taken by the States/UTs in preventing and curbing the crimes against women and children. Some of the steps mentioned in the letter are:

  1. All police officers should be re-trained on various aspects of sexual offences particularly those related to collection and preservation of evidence.
  2. Instructions may be issued to all police officers that utmost priority is to be given to complete the investigation of cases of sexual offences against children strictly as per the timelines of Law.
  3. State Governments must take strict action against those police officers who are found to be obstructing the investigation or colluding with the perpetrators of such cases.
  4. A quick and timely professional investigation is the only method in which a potential offender can be deterred but this can be done only by the states as the police department is the state subject. Forming a special cell only for sexual offences or especially for sexual offences on children would be a significant step in this regard.

The Women and Child Development Minister offered help to State Governments in establishing Forensic Laboratories in states which can be used for forensic analysis of evidence in the investigation of sexual offences.

The WCD Minister has requested the states to generate awareness among the children in using the e-box set up under POCSO with child-help line number 1098.

The Minister also highlighted that till date 175 One-stop centres for women affected by violence have been set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

One Stop Centres are to help those women who have no access to either police or medical facilities or are not able to visit a police station in times of distress.

The letter also stressed that Section 21 of the POCSO Act may be invoked in all cases wherever failure to report or record is noted. Section 21 states that any officer who fails to report or record the commission of an offence under section 19/20 of the Act is liable for punishment.

The WCD Minister called for suggestions from the state Governments on dealing with the crimes against women and children.

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