The Hindu

Over 20 MPs had pending charges of involvement in crimes against women, four of which are rape

Last week, the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament. During the parliamentary debates before the passage of the Bill, several MPs voiced concern about the fact that many members have serious cases of crimes against women pending against them. Some MPs named or made veiled references to MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, former president of the Wrestling Federation of India, who is facing sexual harassment allegations from women wrestlers. A 1,000-page charge sheet filed by the Delhi police in June accused Mr. Singh and former WFI staff member Virendra Tomar of offences under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), and 354D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code.

On September 20, during the discussion on the Bill in the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar accused the BJP of not taking action against MPs accused of sexual harassment, citing the case against Mr. Singh. CPI MP Elamaram Kareem from Kerala and Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien from West Bengal also mentioned the sexual harassment case against the former WFI chief while critiquing the BJP in the Rajya Sabha. Trinamool MP Mausam Noor said, “What is the name of the Lok Sabha MP of yours who shamed us, who harassed our champion wrestlers? On behalf of the women of India, I want to know what he is still doing, sitting here in this new building.” Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said in the Lok Sabha, “In Haryana, a minister is accused of sexual assault but enjoys a cabinet rank status.” She also shared data on the number of MPs who have criminal cases pending against them.

According to the Association of Democratic Reforms’ analysis of 763 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, 306 had criminal cases (40%) and 194 (25%) had serious criminal cases pending against them when they filed their affidavits. Serious criminal cases include non-bailable offences, murder, kidnapping, prevention of corruption, rape and other crimes against women. Chart 1 shows the split.

Chart 1 | The chart shows the types of cases pending against Members of Parliament according to the affidavit submitted at the time of their election.

Table 2 | The table lists the 21 MPs who had pending charges of involvement in crimes against women, four of which were rape, at the time of their election.*

*The present state of these cases may have changed in the last few years. For instance, in August this year Court gave clean chit to K.C. Venugopal. MP Hibin Eden was acquitted last month.

It is important to note that a single case can encompass several charges. The IPC charges against women noted in the table are Sections 354, 366 (kidnapping, abducting, or inducing woman to compel her marriage), 376 (rape), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 354A, 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty). Ten of these MPs were from the BJP, five were from the Congress, three from the YSR Congress Party, and the rest from other parties. Five of them, all from the BJP, were elected from West Bengal. Three were from Kerala, all from the Congress; and three from Andhra Pradesh, all from the YSR Congress Party.

Chart 3 | The chart shows the State-wise MPs who had serious criminal charges pending against them at the time of their election. Each circle corresponds to such an MP. 

The farther to the right, the more the number of serious charges against the MP. Bapu Rao Soyam, a BJP from Telangana, had 55 serious charges, the highest, followed by Dean Kuriakose of the Congress from Kerala (37). In total, 860 serious charges were pending against 194 MPs.

Source: A report titled “Analysis of sitting MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha of India 2023” published by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)

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