CBI director Ranjit Sinha faced a barrage of criticism on Wednesday for his ill-conceived rape analogy with the National Commission for Women (NCW) giving him 24 hours to explain his “insensitive, controversial and objectionable” remarks.
NCW member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar said the commission would not be satisfied with “just a mere apology” and could go so far as to recommend the CBI director’s sacking.
“I regret any hurt caused as the same was inadvertent and unintended… I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues,” Sinha said on Wednesday, reading from a prepared text on the sidelines of a three-day international conference hosted by the CBI.
While supporting legalising betting in sports during a panel discussion at the conference on Tuesday, Sinha said: “…it is like if you can’t prevent rape enjoy it”.
CBI media managers had then tried to blackout – or at least downplay – Sinha’s comments in the media and at one point even contested that he had made the analogy.
Unlike other media houses, HT headlined Sinha’s remarks. The reaction against his remarks flew furiously through the night on social media. By morning, the chorus for action against Sinha grew louder.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman of Bangalore-headquartered biotechnology major Biocon, was one of those outraged by his comments. She said Sinha had “rendered himself unfit to hold this office”.
The CBI initially tried to justify the analogy by accusing the media of taking his words out of context. But as criticism continued to pour in, Sinha issued his second “clarification” in which he also expressed his regret.
That, however, didn’t pacify either the NCW or the political class.
NCW’s Prabhavalkar wondered what kind of an investigation an agency headed by such an officer would do. “He is not suitable for holding such a high chair,” she said.
If the NCW goes as far as to recommend his sacking, it would be deeply embarrassing for the director even though the panel’s recommendations are not binding on the government.
Political parties were also vocal in their criticism. CPM’s Brinda Karat said “that an officer from a responsible office can make such an utterly offensive analysis” was outrageous and demanded that “a strong message” be sent and that Sinha be made to quit office.
BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman called Sinha’s comments shocking and wondered if his colleagues in the CBI, his family & well-wishers approved of his view. By evening, Sushma Swaraj, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, also called the remarks “unfortunate”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Sinha’s remarks were “indeed regrettable” but added that the director had already apologised.