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Law must be amended to prevent those chargesheeted for rape from contesting elections: Srikant Sastri

Updated: January 7, 2013, 2:26 PM IST
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Law must be amended to prevent those chargesheeted for rape from contesting elections: Srikant Sastri
Why MPs & MLAs accused of rape must resign before Jan 26

Srikant Sastri, a Delhi-based entrepreneur and angel investor, has started a campaign called 'Save The Republic - Resign Before Jan 26th' on Facebook and Twitter to ask two MPs and 42 MLAs, accused of crimes against women including rape, to voluntarily tender their resignations before Republic Day. The data has been culled together from the affidavits submitted by candidates to the Election Commission of India and the various state election commissions. Srikant Sastri joined IBNLive readers on the importance of the campaign in the context of the ongoing protest against sexual violence.

Q. What is the provision under constitution to throw them out. Why election commission can not act when affidavit is filed. Asked by: sanjay

A. Yes, you are right. Technically, nothing can be done till actual conviction. But, we live in difficult times and everyone knows the mood of the nation. It would only help political parties to take the high ground by asking such MLAs/MPs to step down.

Q. Prime minister must know how to govern the country he is heavily depending on advisers how can he govern country if he is not knowing him self by lucky he became pm and for that luck citizens are paying prize. He must resign and allow the reverent person to rule the country. Current prime minister either he speaks or he takes any action he is silent like statue. god help this country. Asked by: raju

A. That's a different matter( & not one I want to comment on, here). But, I hold the belief that many of our political parties have intelligent & good people at the leadership level. They are intelligent enough to realize that they need to take tangible steps to win back the confidence of people, which has got shaken due to a series of events/scams past few years.

Q. I think it is very honourable of you to ask these tainted politicians for resignations. But in all probability, they would not as that would be a career suicide. I think the change can be done through people and media. People should realise that they should vote for people who are benificial in the long term to the entire society. Media should hound those tainted persons and broadcast their misdeeds to the entire society. But I wish you the best of luck in this endeavour and hope that you succeed. Asked by: Karthik

A. Karthik, I agree that it would appear to be career breaking. But we are counting on the following: seeing the pulse of the people & the media coverage, political leadership should realize its good for them to take these actions. Assume that MLAs/MPs step down & they are tried via a fast-track court. If cleared, they can come back with heads high & will also win elections hands down. Of course, we all need to lobby for a law amendment such that someone chargesheeted for such offences should not be allowed to contest.

Q. If MPs and MLAs accused of rape resign, then deman will come for the resignation of MLAs/MPs/people representatives accused in Murder and other crimes to resign then demand to resign the representatives with disproportionate assets to resign then with foreign bank accounts to resign. Then.......Our not only our parliament/assemblies but also panchayats/muncipalities/ corporations will not function for lack of quoram. Asked by: Prathap

A. Prathap, more important for our assemblies/municipalities to be run by good people. I don't think we need to worry about empty halls! Once all our efforts lead to some tainted politicians moving out, there will be a conducive environment for decent ones to participate in electoral process.

Q. Instead of them resigning on theri will, shouldn't we push for more stringent rules regarding a candidate being selected. just like there are no relaxation in educational institutions etc.... Asked by: Tanuj

A. Tanuj, we need to do both. Changing the law for more stringent rules is absolutely important, but that may not happen overnight. Hence, asking for resignations of those accused of crimes against women is of immediate importance. It achieves several objectives: it sets an example right at the top; it also ensures that people and parties also do what is considered morally & ethically right rather than hiding behind technical aspects of the law.

Q. Can you provide the list of MLAs and MPs with the constituency they represent. We shall try to spread awareness by fliering and doing online campaign. Asked by: Kiran Mamidipalli

A. Kiran, take a look at the Dec 20th report published by ADR( Association for Democratic Reforms). This report has full details, including names. That's the source of our information as well. You can easily get a copy of the report on interner, at the ADR website.

Q. Problem with our society is that we cannot trust any thing. Just because they are accused doesn't mean they are at fault. Of course 99% might be at fault. Even if one is innocent I will think again before asking them to resign. So, how confident are you in saying that all these 42 + 2 are guilty? If you say you have proof, we all are with you. Asked by: Kiran Mamidipalli

A. Kiran, that's a great question & something we've thought about very deeply. It is indeed a reality that some political opponents may have filed false cases against them. It is also likely that courts may eventually declare some of them innocent. However, we must keep in mind that legal process for conviction can be a never-ending process in India; that defeats the purpose. Here's a practical approach we propose to the political leadership of these parties: let them- with hand on their heart- look closely at the reputation of the accused persons, as well as the kind charges against them. It is evident if you look at the details in the ADR report( as we did) that many of them have a long list of charges, and multiple cases they are involved in. Ask such persons- and not all- to step down. Their cases can be heard at a fast-track court. In six months, they'll either be convicted or declared innocent. It helps everyone's cause- the country, the parties, and the individuals involved.

Q. Going by tour answers it appears that we need to look at drastic reforms in our primary education system, electoral reforms may be stringent lokpal. Why is there no comprehensive approach from corporates to handle Basis Primary education on PPP basis, and address the problem at the point of origin? Asked by: Tackles

A. Education system of course needs a lot of work. I think there's all round awareness of this problem, and many NGOS, Corporates, etc are now seriously getting into PPP( we can discuss this online..and discuss more details). So, of course, in the long run, good primary education( which should inculcate good values & ethics, too!) will help in a cleaner political system as well. But, we cant wait until then. So, we need to work on parallel tracks. Hence, we must do everything possible, at this time, to tackle other problems separately. That's why our focus on crimes against women, which is assuming serious proportions.

Q. We should go one step further and defame such folks right there in their own constituencies. It's stupid to believe Political parties have given them tickets without knowing their background. Even they should be held accountable. Asked by: Ajay

A. Ajay, you are absolutely right. The political parties will surely know- in their hearts, though they may not admit it- who's possibly innocent, and who is likely to be a serious offender. Hence, our approach urges the parties' leadership to use their judgement and then exercise their moral authority, by asking such people to resign. Accountability, yes, but we need to engage their leadership in a constructive spirit, rather than confrontation.

Q. In India, every person is innocent until proven guilty, so legally these 44 MPs, MLAs are innocent. I think way forward is to take up these 44 cases in fast track mode and if proven guilty they should be debarred irrespective of whether the case is to appealed in HC/SC. Asked by: bhaz

A. Yes, technically or legally, they are innocent at this point. Your idea of fast-track courts is perfect. But, we must get them to resign first, and be tried at these fast track courts. ( The leadership of these parties can exercise their judgement to see who has serious & real cases against them, and who does not, before asking specific people to resign).

Q. Social media is fine as a start point, and Jan 26 is a very effective date to rally around, but, how do you plan to take it to masses and grass roots, the demand of cleansing of political system. Asked by: Tackles

A. You are right, once again! Social media & Jan 26th are starting points that help us focus on some immediate goals. But, this needs to get to the grassroots. Students, and I believe- women- are key to this. ( Am keen to discuss your ideas offline).

Q. Hats off to you Sir, for risking your life in the Pursuit of a better India. My question is - Agree that Women and girl safety is the priority for us. But how can be pardon the Financial Criminals? Dont you think that Corrupt MP's and MLA's should also resign as Corruption is the father of all problems including the women security. Asked by: Ricky

A. Ricky, yes of course, corruption is a huge problem. As are other big issues facing the country( e.g. child malnutrition, poverty, access to primary health). So, we can never focus on one and ignore the others. All of them need emphasis & attention, but need to be tackled separately. At this point, since crimes against women has gained so much focus, and such heightened concern, hence, that's the focus of the current campaign.

Q. Yes they should resign...but what if they do not resign? (which is most likely) Even a moral campaign must have muscle. What is your POA? Asked by: amit

A. We are banking on the innate political intelligence of the parties' leadership. Given the mood of the country, and the heightened media visibility, its in their interest to take a high ground or moral leadership by making some concrete steps, i.e asking at least some ( clearly blameful MPs/MLAs) to resign. Apart from this, its important for all of us collectively to demonstrate the strength of numbers- whether by signing the petition, or by helping in other ways. e.g. spread the word in colleges across the country.

Q. When Abhijit Mukherjee made "dented pained comment", the whole media was pouring hot water on him and forcing him for an apology. But why these dented-pained women in TMC function video are not being questioned for their vulgar dance? When a woman talks against the rape, the media is quick and proud enough to broadcast it. But why is not media offending the women who do item numbers and act in AXE ads? Who else other than these women, who expose their body for money, make the rest of the behaving women vulnerable to sexual violence? Asked by: Tamil

A. This point has been brought up occasionally in past few weeks. I subscribe to the point of view that- while public decency is important ( so that we do not see a public display of obscenity)- we cannot pass moral judgements on the way someone dresses or looks. This simply cannot be a justification for crimes against women.

Q. At accusation level if one resigns and with the type of speed we see in the Judiciary process if one is acquitted honorably what is the compensation for loss of reputation and benefits? Who will pay for it.complainant or the state? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Sundar, the move to get tainted lawmakers to resign has to be accompanies by trials via fast-track courts.

First Published: January 7, 2013, 2:26 PM IST
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