Residents of Madhya Pradesh will now have to mandatorily submit "character certificates" to get their driving licence, the Hindustan Times reported on Monday, February 1. In addition to that, driving licences of those accused of committing crimes against women will be cancelled in the state, Transport Commissioner MK Jain said.
"As per instructions received from police training and research institute (PTRI), police headquarters, all regional and district transport officers have been directed to suspend the licences of the accused of a crime against women after getting information from the police department," an order by the state government read. "Similarly, the applicant has to submit a character certificate after getting it verified by a police officer."
Transport Minister Govind Singh Rajput said that the new rule will help in reducing crimes against women. "Now, the background of drivers of all the government, private and public vehicles will be verified and it will make travelling in public transport safer for women," he said.
Soon after the announcement, women rights activists raising their apprehensions said, "It is good that the state government came up with this decision. But capital punishment failed to reduce the number of rapes with minor girls so I don't think it will leave much impact on reducing crime."
On January 12, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that a system would be introduced where a woman leaving home for work would register herself at the local police station, and would be tracked for her safety.
Criticising the decision, activists said that the state government's focus seems to be on restricting women's movement, instead of making public spaces safer for them.
Reacting to the backlash, the Chief Minister's Office clarified that the proposed system was applicable to both women and men leaving the state for work, and was meant for the "security of the youth".