“Changes needed in evidence Act”
“Government in process of creating judicial academies”
“In practice we are unable to defend women and other vulnerable classes against discrimination”
New Delhi: Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily, on Wednesday, asked women's groups fighting for justice for marginalised women not to aim for utopia but to direct their movement towards procuring vehicles for getting the various laws implemented.
The Minister was addressing a three-day conference of women leaders from marginalised communities organised by the National Alliance of Women (NAWO). His remark was swiftly countered by President of NAWO Ruth Manorma who pointed out that marginalised women could hardly ensure the implementation of the law. “Implementation is not in our hands, sir. Nothing moves for us.”
Mr. Moily admitted that the situation on the ground was a far cry from the vision of social justice set out in the Constitution. The goals of social and economic justice were envisaged in the preamble and further amplified in the fundamental rights and the directive principles, and yet “in practice we have not been able to defend women and other vulnerable classes against discrimination,” he said. The minister said the problem arose in part because The Evidence Act was not geared towards facilitating gender justice.
The Minister said the United Progressive Alliance government had taken the lead in enacting gender-specific legislation and was in the process of finalising a comprehensive bill against sexual violence. “However, I always insist that the Evidence Act is also amended so that the intended objective of the law is met.”
Hundreds of women representing the marginalised groups of Dalits, minorities and Muslims from across the country are participating in the conference which has been organised on the theme of “denial, discrimination and deprivation.”
Mr. Moily said the law by itself could not deliver justice without a sensitised support system. “We need to ensure that the institutions, the implementing authorities, and the judiciary are sensitised.” He said the government was in the process of creating judicial academies.
Union Minister of State for Minorities Salman Khursheed argued that the time had come to move beyond quotas and such and embrace the “great idea of an Equal Opportunities Commission.”