New Delhi, Feb 2 — The union government is open to consultation and changes in the ordinance on criminal law amendments passed by the cabinet to deal with sexual crimes against women, External Affairs Minster Salman Khurshid said Saturday.
He said bringing the ordinance was necessary in order to address the urgency that people wanted to see from the government on the issue.
“Justice (J.S.) Verma committee and the public opinion were both of the view that something needs to be done with a sense of urgency. All you can do is when the parliament is not in the session is to bring an ordinance, which is what we have done,” said Khurshid on the sidelines of a function here.
Emphasising that government is open for discussion, Khurshid said: “It does not mean that widespread consultation cannot take place when the actual bill is brought into the parliament.”
“I am sure that the women organisation as well as all the political parties will come together for widespread consultation with all sensitivity this area of law requires.”
“This (ordinance) is in response to the sense of urgency… I think we should recognise the urgency. We should recognise the demand for that urgency that a lot of young people also wanted,” he said.
Calling for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to not stay away from parliament or prevent the house from functioning, he said: “Their valuable contribution in the debate in the house and their valuable contribution to the governance of the country as principal opposition of the country is something we don’t want to be deprived of.”
The cabinet Friday approved an ordinance for enhanced punishment in cases of crimes against women, including sexual assault, acid attacks, voyeurism and trafficking.
The ordinance was largely based on the recommendations of the Justice Verma panel, set up by the government last month in the wake of outrage over the gruesome gang-rape of a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist Dec 16.
Some women’s organisations Saturday urged the President Pranab Mukherjee not to sign the ordinance on criminal law amendments passed by the union cabinet to deal with sexual crimes.