08/06/2020 1:15 PM IST

Why Kerala Women's Panel Chief's 'Party Is Court And Police Station' Comment Kicked Up Controversy

MC Josephine has been serving as the state women’s panel chief since March 2017 and is also a CPI(M) central committee member.

Sanu N/Wikimedia Commons
MC Josephine

The National Commission for Women on Sunday took suo motu cognisance of the gang-rape of a woman by her husband and his friends in front of her five year-old child in Thiruvananthapuram and asked the Kerala Police to submit an action report.

The 25-year-old woman was sexually assaulted after being forced to consume alcohol, police said.

The move comes after State commission chief MC Josephine’s statement on the kicked up controversy last Friday. 

While talking to the media after visiting the gangrape victim, Josephine had said her “party”, the ruling CPI(M), functioned like “a court and a police station”.

The women’s panel chairperson was responding to a question by a reporter on the Commission’s stand on certain cases against CPI(M) leaders.

“I may be the Chairperson of the state Women’s Commission, but I am from the communist party. No other party, other than mine, will take stern action in cases against women. I know which case you are mentioning. In that case, the family members, who are party followers, told me that they need the decision to be taken by the party,” she said in an apparent reference to a case involving senior CPI(M) leader and MLA P K Sasi.

“Our party is court and a police station. No leniency will be shown towards any leader in that regard,” said Josephine. She has been serving as the women’s panel chief since March 2017 and is also a CPI(M) central committee member.

In 2018, a woman Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) leader had accused PK Sasi of trying to sexually abuse her following which the party had initiated a probe.

Josephine had initially refused to take action as state women’s panel chief, saying there had been no formal complaint and that a case in the matter would be taken only if the woman came out in public or filed a police case.

She also said: “We are all human beings, mistakes do happen. People inside the party may also have committed such mistakes.”

The CPI(M) later suspended the Shoranur MLA for six months. Sasi was also suspended from the CPI(M)’s primary membership after it was found that he had conversed with a woman worker “in a manner not befitting a party leader”.

In September 2019, he was reinstated into the Palakkad District Committee of the CPI(M).

On Friday, Josephine said the state’s women’s commission had taken action in cases against CPI(M) leaders in an impartial manner. 

Her ‘party is court and a police station’ comment was immediately criticised by the state Congress which demanded Josephine’s resignation. 

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said Josephine’s statement violated the principles of the Constitution.

“A women’s panel chief, who says that CPI(M) means court and the police, has no credentials to occupy that position. She has made anti-constitutional statements while heading a quasi-judicial body which is completely unacceptable,” Chennithala said.

While taking cognisance of the case on Sunday, the NCW expressed concern about the grave violation of safety and security of women in the state and said, “cannot be overlooked and needs to be addressed immediately”.

“The Commission has also written to R Sreelekha IPS, DGP, Kerala directing to apprise it at the earliest with the action taken report in the case till filing of the charge sheet,” the commission said in its statement.

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