Differences sorted out on rape bill
Sorting out differences, a Group
of Ministers (GoM) tonight recommended lowering of age of
consent for sex from 18 to 16 years and suggested stern
punishment for offences like stalking.
Working speedily, the GoM completed its task in the second
meeting, paving the way for consideration of the Criminal Laws
(Amendment) Bill by the Union Cabinet tomorrow.
The age of consent for sex was one of the highly
contentious provisions in the Bill, because of which it was
referred by the Cabinet to the GoM yesterday.
"We have gone through every provision of the proposed bill
and all issues have been resolved. Now the matter will go to
Cabinet tomorrow and hopefully it will be passed tomorrow,"
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.
At today's GoM meeting, there was consensus on lowering
the age from 18 to 16 years, subject to approval by
Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath had
been opposing any move to lower the age of consent.
The GoM, chaired by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, also
recommended that sustained stalking be made a non-bailable
offence while first offence of voyeurism could be a bailable
offence, sources said.
Repeat offences of voyeurisn, inappropriate touch, gesture
and remarks have been recommended as non-bailable offences,
The GoM also decided to retain the term 'rape' in the bill
and treat it gender-specific, instead of the proposal to make
Provisions seeking strong action against those filing
false complaints were dropped from the draft Bill, the sources
said adding that there was consensus in the GoM that existing
laws were adequate for dealing with such cases and it was only
a matter of enforcing them.
The Bill will replace Criminal Laws Ordinance promulgated
on February 3 in the wake of public outrage over the December
The Ordinance has to be approved by Parliament before its
recess from March 22, failing which it would lapse on April 4.