Why in News?
More than a hundred schools in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district have installed boxes on their premises under the Swayangsiddha scheme.
· It encourages girls to report stalking or harassment faced either by them or anyone known to them.
· Not only schools of Mathurapur but also those in areas like Metaibruz on the southwestern fringes of Kolkata are benefiting from the installation of these complaint boxes.
· Swayangsiddha means self-reliance and one of the important aims of the scheme is to make girls aware so that they are able to make informed choices.
· These boxes have opened a new channel of communication for girls in schools.
· Several complaints of stalking have been received and locals as well as the police have been involved to ensure that girls do not face any problem coming to school.
· This can go a long way in preventing trafficking, not only of the girls coming to school but also in their villages.
Keywords - Swayangsiddha scheme, West Bengal.
Freedom of Literature Bill
Why in News?
Ii is a private member Bill introduced by Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor in the Lok Sabha.
· The bill has suggested far-reaching amendments to various statutes to make it difficult for governments to ban books and to provide safeguards for authors and scholars from arbitrary and exhausting legal battles.
· The bill puts on the government the onus of explaining why a book needs to be banned and removes the government’s right to ban books indefinitely.
· The purpose of the Bill is to amend and remove the existing provisions of the laws which can be misused to harass authors by vested interests.
Section 295A and 298 of the IPC
· The Bill envisages reading down Section 295A and Section 298of the Indian Penal Code.
· Section 295A provides for imprisonment of up to three years for “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
· Section 298, similar to 295A, criminalises speech critical of religious organisations or religious figures, and therefore a major deterrent to free expression.
· Mr. Tharoor cites the example of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, which was banned in India because of legal travails under 295A.
· The most important part of the Bill, however, is the amendment to the Customs Act that allows governments to suspend the shipping in of books over an indefinite period (as had happened with the ban on Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses).
Keywords – freedom of literature bill, section 295A and 298 of the IPC, the Customs Act.