Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In a shocking as well as a controversial remark, CBI director Ranjit Sinha on Tuesday compared the legalisation of sports betting to `enjoying` sexual assault.
When asked by a senior editor on his views about legalising betting, Sinha, who was on the panel of a session, "Ethics and integrity in sports - need for a law and role of CBI", said there was no harm in legalising betting in the country.
"If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying `if you can`t prevent rape, you enjoy it`", Sinha said.
In a bid to douse the controversy, Sinha said that he regretted his remark and added that any hurt caused by it was `unintended and inadvertent`.
"I regret any hurt caused as same was unintended and inadvertent. I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues," Sinha said today, stopping short of an apology.
Sinha’s comment triggered row and instantaneously drew the wrath of many on the social media, who dubbed it shameful.
His `regret` has, however, failed to placate National Commission for Women member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, who called Sinha`s apology as meaningless. "He should have not made such a comment in first place," the NCW member told a news channel.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women sent a notice to the CBI chief on the controversial remark.
NCW chairperson Mamata Sharma had earlier in the day demanded the resignation of the CBI chief over his statement on rape. "I am sorry to say (that) an agency, which is there for women`s security, the head of that institution is saying this. I think if he has said so, he should resign," said Sharma.
"We thought we had to sensitise people at lower levels, but this example shows that people at higher level also have to be sensitised," she added.
BJP leader Nitin Gadkari has demanded Sinha`s resignation over his rape comment.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, meanwhile, asked if the CBI director`s colleagues and family agreed with his view.
Shocking! CBI Director's statement about rape & women. Wonder if his colleagues in the Bureau,his family & well-wishers approve of his view.
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) November 13, 2013
Slamming the CBI director, a news channel quoted CPM leader Brinda Karat as saying that Sinha should be prosecuted for making such a comment and has no right to continue in office. The CBI director is trivialising rape, giving a very wrong message, added Karat.
In the meantime, former IPS officer, on microblogging website Twitter, tweeted that the CBI chief should consider making a public apology for his irresponsible remarks on `betting and rape`.
Dir CBI must consider making a public apology for his irresponsible remarks on 'betting and rape'!This is not expected from such positions!
— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) November 13, 2013
Notably, betting in the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament is estimated to be around a Rs 66,000 crore business.
"If we can have lottery in states, if we can have casinos at holiday resorts, if the government can declare schemes of voluntary disclosure for black money, so what`s the harm in legalising betting? Besides you`ll have enforcement agencies to look into it," he said, adding that it is easy to call for a ban than to enforce it.
Later, a spokesperson of the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI clarified that the context in which Sinha made the statement was only an opinion on legalising betting.
"A voice vote was taken from RM Sawani and cricketer Rahul Dravid and the director, CBI, made a point if a law cannot be enforced, that does not mean that law should not be there".
When informed by a delegate during the session that officials of cricket bodies had been termed as public servants by the Supreme Court and could now be probed by the CBI and the states` anti-corruption agencies, Sinha said it was a revelation and he would not hesitate to probe cases of corruption if the need arises.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, ace cricketer Rahul Dravid, who was a special guest at the panel, said legalising betting was a subject on which a call had to be taken by the law enforcement agencies.
"I think if the law enforcement authorities actually do feel that legalising betting will lead to better governance and reduce corruption, then I am all for it," he said.
When the question was posed to Ravi Sawani, chief of the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit of the Board of Control for Cricket in India or BCCI, he said legalising betting would, in no way, help reduce corruption in the game.
Sawani, in his presentation, said in each IPL game, legal bets from one exchange in the United Kingdom are about Rs 440 crore whereas for the tournament, bets worth Rs 66,000 crore approximately are placed which include illegal betting syndicates as well.
(With PTI inputs)