New Delhi, April 17: Mulayam Singh Yadav has referred to his own house to insist that he respects women and how he was hurt by misinterpretations that insinuated otherwise.
“Even I have women in my household. I do not respect just them but also respect all women,” the Samajwadi Party chief said in a swift letter to the National Commission for Women that had sent him a notice on April 11 after his remarks on rape at a rally in Moradabad.
Mulayam has four women in his immediate family — his second wife Sadhna Yadav daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav, who is an MP from Kannauj, and his two granddaughters Aditi and Tina.
On April 10 in Moradabad, Mulayam said innocent men were being sentenced to death in false rape cases and asserted that when his party came to power, it would change the law and punish women who make up charges.
“My statements have been presented in a false manner. They have used some isolated sentences in my speech and bound them together. I have always maintained that only in the most grievous of cases of rape should the death sentence be applied. Sadly, despite my many clarifications, the false statements are being paraded,” he wrote in the letter.
A commission source expressed surprise at the alacrity with which the politician replied to the notice. Mulayam responded within seven days but his son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was also sent the notice on the same day, has not replied yet.
“Most politicians do not even reply. Many reply after weeks. It is rare for a politician to be so prompt. However, we are yet to take the final call,” said a commission member who did not want to be named.
A day after the speech — apparently made to court those who felt the Mumbai Shakti Mills rape accused should not have been sentenced to death — the Samajwadi leader had taken note of a dip in the number of women in the audience.
In the letter, Mulayam claimed that he did not say anything that was either demeaning to women or something that varied from the law of the land.
“The offence of rape is a serious and heinous crime and the perpetrators of such crimes deserve to be dealt with sternly and swiftly. However, it is my belief that a death sentence is to be reserved for only the rarest of rare cases as has been laid down by the Supreme Court of India in the context of death penalties.
“I also believe that there should be a review of the rape laws to ensure that no one is in jail for false charges. There are many whose lives have been ruined because of false charges of sexual assault against them,” Mulayam said.
The new anti-rape law does not have a provision for punishing those who file false charges. Recourse can be sought under Section 211 of the IPC, which seeks to penalise anyone filing a false charge with the intention to cause hurt.
After the new law became operational last year, Delhi’s trial courts show a sharp increase in acquittals in rape cases, prompting suggestions that some might have been false charges. But others have cautioned that a conclusion can be reached only after a case-by-case analysis and after verifying the investigation and prosecution processes.
In 2012, the acquittal rate was 46 per cent. In the first eight months of 2013, it shot up to 75 per cent.