A Group of Ministers (GoM) on Friday approved amendments to Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 that allows police to press charges against communities, where
takes place and prohibits any legal action against the victim.
The GoM recommendations will now be placed before the Cabinet for its consideration. If the Cabinet puts a stamp of approval, the amendment bill may be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, a government official said.
The officials believe that the proposed changes will help in checking incidents of sati, where a woman burns herself in the funeral pyre of her husband. A couple of sati cases have been reported from different parts of the country in the last few years. In September 2006, sati was performed Chahatarpur area of Madhya Pradesh. Four sons of the deceased were arrested on the charge of murder.
A Women and Child Development ministry official, said, now woman who attempt to commit sati would be treated as a victim rather than an offender, who tried to commit a crime.
Another amendment approved by the GoM headed by HRD minister Arjun Singh provides for legal action against entire village responsible for performing sati. This can put pressure on the family not to perform the illegal act, an official said. The GoM also approved the amendment that a fine should be imposed on entire community for allowing sati.
The amendment bill also provides for panchayat functionaries responsible for implementation of the Act to make it more effective. "It would be mandatory on their part to report any incident of sati to police or action can be taken against them," an official said.
The ministry has also proposed to enhance the punishment under the Act for both glorification of sati from up to seven years to life imprisonment. There is also recommendation to increase penalty for other offences.
The present Act bars any relative of a woman, who has committed sati, from inheriting the property of her late husband.