Citizens' Issues
Lok Sabha Bill make sexual assault a gender-neutral offence

The amendment bill expands the definition so that cases of sexual assault where victims were male would fall under the same law along with cases where victims were women

 
New Delhi: Both men and women could soon be able to invoke the provisions of a criminal law in case of sexual assault, once a bill in this regard is passed by Parliament, reports PTI.
 
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, replacing the word 'rape' by the phrase 'sexual assault' and seeking to widen the scope of the offence, was introduced by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
 
The amendment bill expands the definition so that cases of sexual assault where victims were male would fall under the same law along with cases where victims were women.
 
At present, the offence is defined under section 375 of the Indian Penal Code as per which a man is said to commit 'rape' in case he has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will.
 
The bill also carries provisions which makes carrying out of acid attacks a separate offence punishable by a maximum of ten years' in jail. Attempt to do so could send the accused to jail for 5-7 years.
 
Under the bill, an offender can be jailed for life in cases of sexual assault, irrespective of the victim's gender.
 
The term 'sexual assault' has also been widened to include forced unnatural sex.
 
The bill lays down strict provisions under which persons below 18 making a complaint will not have to face the accused in court or police stations. It has raised the age of consent from 16 to 18 years.
 

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Opposition attacks UPA government over FDI in retail, wants rollback

Sushma Swaraj maintained that the concept of large supermarkets has failed in Western economies and wondered how the government was claiming it would create jobs in India

 
New Delhi: Slamming the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, Opposition on Tuesday asked it to withdraw the decision in national interest fearing it would render retailers jobless, impoverish farmers and hurt consumers, reports PTI.
 
Initiating the debate on the issue, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj contended that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha in 2002, had opposed FDI in retail and questioned as to what has changed that the government is so determined to implement it.
 
In her nearly 90-minute speech, punctuated by repeated disruptions and heated exchanges, Swaraj maintained that the concept of large supermarkets has failed in Western economies and wondered how the government was claiming it would create jobs in India.
 
She asserted that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was not opposed to FDI per se and as Leader of the Opposition she was willing to travel with the Prime Minister across the world to invite investments in other sectors like infrastructure. Singh was present when she spoke.
 
Appealing to parties like SP and BSP to support the motion moved by her and Khagen Das (CPI-M) against 51% FDI in multi-brand retail, Swaraj said any defeat during vote will not bring down the government but will force it to rollback the decision on FDI.
 
"Your fear that the government will fall because of this vote is unfounded," she said turning to members of SP and BSP, which have so far maintained ambiguity over their stand on voting.
 
Pressing for rollback of the "disastrous" FDI decision, she told the government "hum aapko hara ke jeetna nahin chahte, hum aapko mana ke jeetna chahte (We don't want the rollback by defeating you. We want the rollback by convincing you)," she said.
 

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Indian couple in Norway convicted; father gets 18 months, mother 15

Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni and his wife Anupama were convicted for child abuse and sentenced 18 and 15-months jail term, respectively 

 
Oslo: The Indian couple facing criminal charges of child abuse were convicted on Tuesday by a district court here with the father getting an 18-month jail term and mother being sentenced to 15 months, reports PTI. 
 
Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni, a software professional from Andhra Pradesh, and his wife Anupama, who were arrested by the police in November, were convicted for gross or repeated maltreatment of their child/children by threats, violence or other wrong.
 
The prosecution had proposed a sentence of 18 months for the father and 15 months for the mother in the case which was upheld by the Court.
 
Reacting to the Court verdict, Indian officials in the Ministry of External Affairs said, “Our embassy in Norway has been in touch with the Indian nationals involved in the case. Even during the course of their detention the Consular Officer has been in touch with them. We will continue to render necessary consular assistance and will be in touch with their lawyer.”
 
Justifying the arrest and charges, Kurt Lir, Head of Prosecution, Oslo Police Department, had said that “there were burn marks and scars on the body of the child, who has also been beaten by the belt.”
 

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