The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Wednesday sought an explanation from CBI chief Ranjit Sinha for his controversial rape remark and said it may recommend his resignation to the government after receiving a reply on his “insensitive and irresponsible” statement.
Disapproving Sinha's statement, the NCW issued a show-cause notice seeking an explanation from him for his statement within 24 hours.
The CBI director on Wednesday apologised for saying, “If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it,” a remark that has outraged people across the country.
Sinha made the remark on Tuesday during a conference about illegal sports betting and the need to legalise gambling. He said if the country could not stop gambling, it could at least make some revenue by legalising it. “If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying, ‘If you can't prevent rape, you enjoy it’,” he said.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Sinha said he was sorry if his statement hurt the sentiments of some people and added that he made the remark inadvertently.
The remarks by the CBI director have caused outrage across the country, which was recently roiled by widespread protests following the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi.
Following a public outcry over the Delhi attack, the government introduced tougher rape laws in March, which include the death penalty for repeat offenders and for those whose victims are left in a “vegetative state”.
The row comes at a bad time for the CBI, widely accused of acting as a tool for the government to pressure political rivals. Its very legality is also being challenged in court.
Speaking to HT earlier on Tuesday, Sinha said, “ I was just making a point, that it is very difficult to enforce a ban on betting, that you can make a law but there are already so many and it is difficult to enforce. Lotteries are already legal. So I said betting could be legalised, it can be taxed. To make this point, I just used a proverb”.
“It’s a malicious propaganda, it’s hitting below the belt, and it’s unfair,” he added.
“He has made a controversial statement. We will not only condemn it, but also protest against it. He holds such a high position and as the protector of law, how can he make such an insensitive and irresponsible statement,” NCW member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar said.
“It shows his sick mindset and we feel that if necessary we may recommend the government to seek his resignation after the explanation. We will take proper action and will definitely see that such kind of thing is not tolerated,” Prabhavalkar added.
Kavita Krishnan, an activist with the All India Progressive Women's Association, called for Sinha to step down.
“How can he remain the head of India's premier investigation agency?” she said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said Sinha’s comments were offensive to women everywhere.
“It is sickening that a man who is in charge of several rape investigations should use such an analogy,” Karat told reporters. “He should be prosecuted for degrading and insulting women.”
Sinha’s remark also evoked sharp criticism on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi tweeted that ‘this (such remarks) is not expected from such positions!’
Nirmala Sitharaman, spokeswoman for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), called the remarks “shocking”.
“Wonder if his colleagues in the bureau, his family and well-wishers approve of his view,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Such a senior police officer who is in a very responsible position and investigates criminal cases should not have passed such a remark,” said Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research.
“It is not acceptable and he should apologise for it. It has become a habit of people in senior positions to treat the issue of sexual assault lightly,” she added.
HT POLL: Should CBI chief Ranjit Sinha resign for his controversial 'rape' comment?