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Pune students ‘draft law to protect inter-caste, inter-religious marriages’

Five students from Pune have drafted a law to protect ‘inter-caste and inter-religious marriages’ from crimes such as honour killings. They sent their draft to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister’s Office on Friday.

The students, four of whom are law students and one is an engineering graduate, claimed that there is no law in the country that specifically provides for protection of such marriages and ‘generic’ provisions of other laws, which do not specifically cater to these cases, are used by the police in such cases.

The five students are Bhushan Raut, Kaamini Suhas and Chaitanya Shendage from ILS Law College, Kalyani Mangave from MMM Shankarrao Chavan Law College and Mayuresh Ingale from VES Institute of Technology, Mumbai.

The draft of the Act, titled ‘Inter Caste and Inter Religion Marriages Protection and Welfare Act, 2017’, took several months to prepare, the students said, adding that they spent a lot of time researching existing laws, studying cases that were reported and registered, the existing IPC sections that were used and they consulted with victims and organisations on the loopholes of existing laws.

“If a couple gets married today and they are forcibly separated by either family and one of them lodges a complaint, then a charge of kidnapping is applied. But this is not a case of kidnapping, it’s a hate crime in the name of ‘honour’. It needs a separate law altogether. We decided to draft this law because the state is not thinking about it despite so many crimes being reported. Maybe our draft will get them thinking in this direction,” said Raut.

The draft is divided into five sections — Section 1 that defines the various meanings and lays down the basic understanding of the drafted law, Section 2 that deals with crime, punishment and protection related to inter-caste and inter-religion marriages, Section 3 deals with the appointment of a commission, Section 4 deals with inter-caste and inter-religion marriage promotion schemes and the last section is about the responsibilities of local body institutions.

“Establishing a commission is not new, since many commissions exist today, but they are important for overseeing the implementation of the law. We proposed a six-member commission that includes two women and at least one member from SC/ST or backward classes. Such a commission will help to frame a policy on such marriages, promote them and even produce a white paper on them,” said Suhas, a fifth law year student at ILS.

The students have even envisaged schemes to promote inter-caste and inter-religion marriages, like interest-free loan schemes for such couples who usually get cut off from family money, appointing brand ambassadors from celebrities and fixing responsibility on local self governing/municipal bodies/police to provide protection, counsel families, appoint marriage counsellors and even pay hefty fines for failing to provide protection or services in time.

So far, the students have sent the draft of the legislation they have prepared to the PMO and CMO, hoping for some positive action. Besides that, the students said that they have started sharing the draft on social media sites and Whatsapp groups, following which some organisations have started contacting them to lend support.

“The organisation in Kolhapur founded by Govind Pansare, now run by his daughter Medha, has pledged support. Some people from Nashik and Latur have contacted us. We are hopeful this movement will grow and we will now move an online petition for this as well,” added Raut.

This article was originally published here.

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