Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: India

Extradition conditions

Abu Salem is in India extradited by Portugal on conditions that he would not be given death penalty and imprisonment would not be more than 25 years. TADA court judge told CBI that there could not be conditional appearance before court. It is the government of India that gave the undertaking accepting the conditions.

India should not have agreed to those conditions. TADA court is not bound by the undertaking. Abu Salem if found guilty will be sentenced as the court deems suitable. If the court sentences him to death or life imprisonment the government is likely to exercise power of president to pardon and commute sentences. When Abu Salem’s trial will begin and when final judgment will be delivered cannot be said at this time.

What happens to other accused in similar cases? They do not have the advantage of extradition conditions. India should not give any undertaking to other countries about punishment to criminals. They must be made to extraidite without conditions.

However the record of punishing people brought under extradition treaties does not inspire confidence. Most of them have been acquitted.

Holidays

India is a country of people belonging to many religions. All the major religions have their religious holidays. Sometimes these holidays come together and combined with Saturdays and Sundays they stretch to three or more days.

India should have only two public holidays Republic Day and Independence Day. Government employees have too many holidays. Those who need to take leave on a particular day to celebrate a feast or mourn can take casual leave. Gandhi Jayanti and Ambedkar Jayanti should not be holidays. Some religious holidays are needed by less than 1% of the people.

Parliament should not have a holiday when it convenes because a member died when it was not in session.

Rape

National Council for Women (NCW) has recommended the replace the word “rape” with sexual assault in various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Women activists said the word “rape” was derogatory to women. Two of their recommendations are as follows:

1) The definition of rape should be widened and not be restricted to vaginal penetration. Oral and anal penetration, or even body contact, should be considered “sexual assault.”

2) Buying sexual favours (from sex workers) should also be considered sexual assault.

I oppose them on following grounds:

1) The word “rape” should be maintained as it is and shall continue to mean vaginal penetration as vaginal penetration can result in pregnancy and oral and anal penetration do not result in pregnancy. Rape is a serious crime. It is not derogatory to women. It is derogatory for the rapists. Replacing “rape” with “sexual assault” and clubbing together with other crimes will dilute the seriousness of rape.

2) When sexual favours are bought there is no assault.

NCW should stop demanding change in terminology. Calling a “widow” “wife of late so and so” or calling a “prostitute” “commercial sex workers” does not result in betterment. There is nothing derogatory about being a widow.

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