Government withdraws indecent representation of women amendment bill

Economic Times, July 27, 2021

The government on Monday withdrew the long-pending Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2012.

It is learnt that the view behind withdrawing the proposed amendments to the 1986 law stems from the fact that it was felt that the amendments were no longer required as the concerns have since been addressed keeping in view new emerging realities under the Information Technology Rules 2021, the Cinematograph Act 1952 and other provisions of the law.

On a day marked by disruptions and repeated adjournments, when the proceedings of Rajya Sabha resumed after lunch at 2 pm, BJP member Surendra Singh Nagar who was in the chair, asked minister of women and child development Smriti Irani to withdraw the bill which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2012. “I rise to move for leave to withdraw the bill,” Irani said.

The IRWA Bill, 2012 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2012 which referred the bill to the department related parliamentary standing committee for consideration. The bill sought to amend the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, which prohibits indecent representation of women through advertisements or publications, writings and paintings (primarily the print media).

The bill also sought to widen the scope of the Act to cover new forms of communication such as the internet, satellite-based communication, cable television etc.

In June 2018, the WCD ministry then led by Maneka Gandhi as minister issued an official statement announcing that they were reformulating the bill with higher penalties and punishment provisions and that it would be sent to the Cabinet for approval.

The WCD ministry said that the new proposal was based on the observations made by the parliamentary standing committee and recommendations made by the National Commission for Women based on consultation with civil society groups and like-minded individuals.

It was stated that the amendments to IRWA were being proposed keeping in mind the recent technological advancement in the field of communications such as social media platforms. It sought to bring in penalty provisions similar to that provided under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and create a centralised authority under the aegis of the National Commission of Women (NCW). However, the reformulated bill never saw the light of the day.

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