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Demands like banning church confessions are knee-jerk reactions, says law panel

In its consultation paper on ‘Reform of Family Law’ the Law Commission said confessing in itself cannot be a criminal act.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2018 17:33 IST
Chuch confessions,Law panel,Law Commission
The National Commission for Women (NCW) had last month recommended abolition of the practice of confessions in churches, saying the practice could lead to blackmailing of women. (Kartik Wahie/HT file photo)

Demands such as one seeking a ban on church confessions as they could lead to blackmailing of women are “knee-jerk reactions” and one should be wary of them, the Law Commission said on Friday.

In its consultation paper on ‘Reform of Family Law’ the panel said confessing in itself cannot be a criminal act.

“It’s the misuse of confessions by select priests that needs to be checked. It is a far more progressive and sensible suggestion to eventually also include nuns who can hear confessions. This need not be enforced by law, but be brought in through consensus building within communities,” the document said.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) had last month recommended abolition of the practice of confessions in churches, saying the practice could lead to blackmailing of women.

NCW chief Rekha Sharma had made the recommendation after allegations came to light in June that four priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala had used a married woman’s confession to sexually abuse her.

“...in the recent case of a Kerala church where the father exploited a woman blackmailing her for the confessions she made to him led to a widespread demand for declaring the practice of confessions altogether illegal. These are precisely the type of knee-jerk reactions we must be wary of,” the consultation paper said.

Instead of a full-fledged report on a uniform civil code, the law panel preferred a consultation paper as it had little time at hand to bring out a comprehensive report.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 17:33 IST