India to enact tough new anti-rape law
New Delhi, Mar 5 : India's home ministry has pushed for a new tough law to punish rapists and sexual predators with a proposal before the union cabinet for its clearance.
According to media reports, the government is amending the criminal law to make the age of consent for sex to 16 years from 18. In the existing law sexual intercourse below 18 year is seen as a statutory rape.
After cabinet clearance, the proposal will be before Parliament.
Reports said the word "rape" will be reintroduced instead of sexual assault in keeping with the recommendation of the Verma Commission in the changes mooted in the Criminal Law Amendment Bill.
Violent rapes causing physical damage will be treated as rarest as rare cases and the punishment can be death penalty, said reports.
Hospitals and private nursing homes, medical centres will have to treat the victim failing which there will be punishment.
According to the new proposal only a lady police officer will take the statement of the victim.
However the controversial issues of marital rape and assault in regions where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is imposed is not being touched at the moment, said reports.
Amid its disapproval by the women groups, the government early last month introduced the anti-rape law ordinance based on some of the recommendations of Justice Verma panel.
The ordinance, that came into effect after President Pranab Mukherjee signed it on Feb 5, will need to be passed by the Parliament within six months.
Flaying the law enforcers and calling for police reforms, the Justice Verma Committee tasked by the government to suggest stringent laws against sexual violence submitted its "path-breaking" recommendations on Jan 23 to the Home Ministry, calling for enhancement of punishment to life sentence for the crime while stopping short of awarding death penalty.
The three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma submitted its report to the government a month after it was formed following a national outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a Delhi bus on December 16 and her subsequent death from the injuries.
Justice Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanian, are the other two members of the committee.