Faced with criticism over his remark on rape, CBI director Ranjit Sinha on Wednesday expressed regret if he had hurt anyone inadvertently, saying he has deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues.
In a statement, Sinha said he had made the comment in the context of legalizing betting in sports.
"I gave my opinion that betting should be legalized and that if the laws cannot be enforced that does not mean that laws should not be made. This is as erroneous as saying that if rape is inevitable one should lie back and enjoy it.
"I regret any hurt caused as the same was inadvertent and unintended. I reiterate my deep sense of regard and respect for women and commitment to gender issues," he said.
Sinha was participating in a panel discussion being moderated by editor-in-chief of India Express Shekhar Gupta. Former Indian cricket captain Rahul Dravid and BCCI's anti-corruption chief RN Sawani were among other participants.
The CBI director, who was on the panel of a session on "Ethics and integrity in sports - need for a law and role of CBI", had said last night that there was no harm in legalizing 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", he had said.
Sinha maintained today that the law should be strictly enforced and absence of enforcement or lack of will for does not mean that law the should not be made.
The CBI chief's statement follows angry reactions from several women organizations including National Commission for Women.
"Ranjit Sinha has made a controversial statement. We not only condemn it, but also protest against it. How can he make comparison with a heinous offence like rape when the rape laws are changing.
"He holds such a high position and is a protector of the law, said NCW member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar.
"We will take proper action and will definitely see to it that such a kind of thing is not tolerated," she said.
CPM leader Brinda Karat condemned Sinha's statement and demanded his resignation.
"I am absolutely outraged that an officer from a responsible office can make such an utterly offensive analysis. I do believe that there should be a strong message sent that it is just intolerable and he has to quit office," she said..
The point is not just the remark, but the position he holds, where he is a part of investigations in so many cases of sexual assault against women, and if the head of this agency trivialises sexual assault in this manner, what is the message which goes to those who are investigating the cases, Karat said.
"He cannot continue in the office. This is also a strong case for prosecution," the CPM leader said.
Former IPS office Kiran Bedi said the CBI chief has "blundered" with his words and he must tender a public apology for his comment.