Chetan Chauhan, New Delhi, April 25, 2006, Hindustan Times
A new law on sati will be easy on the woman who tries to commit the act but tough on family members and others who abet the crime.
According to the amended Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 — which the government plans to introduce in Parliament in May — a woman who attempts sati will not be chargedsheeted for attempted suicide.
According to senior officials of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the amendment bill is awaiting the Cabinet’s approval. “We expect to introduce the bill in the latter half of the session,” an official said.
The bill was drafted following representations from various women’s organisations saying that the present law — which books the woman for attempted suicide and sentences her to a year in prison — only went on to further harass the victim.
“The woman is usually forced to burn herself. Even after she is saved, instead of rehabilitating her, she is booked for attempted suicide,” an official said.
To further balance the law in favour of the woman, the bill proposes to penalise the immediate family members for sati murder and the village for abetting the crime. “This section can act as a deterrent to sati and will force family members, including children, to worry about the legal implications,” an official said.
The ministry’s changes have the approval of the home ministry and the law ministry. “The home ministry’s approval was required as the act refers to sections of the Indian Penal Code on attempted suicide and related sections,” an official said.