Cabinet defers anti-rape bill again
New Delhi, Mar 12 : The Union Cabinet on Tuesday deferred again the anti-rape law bill owing to lack of unanimity in the government on the key provisions of the bill.
Now a Group of Ministers (GoM) will review the bill. The ministers were of divergent views over the proposed law.
While Union Women and Child Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath said the bill will be cleared by cabinet and passed, the opposition BJP said they are interested in a firm law soon and the government must clear its own differences first.
Reports said there were difference over the use of the term sexual assault and rape and also inclusion of stalking, voyeurism and age of consent.
Earlier, proposal for lowing of age for consensual sex had divided the union cabinet on the proposed tough anti-rape law amid a rising sexual crime graph in India.
Reports said the cabinet was divided over the new rape laws drafted by the government where 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.
Some ministers are of view that lowering the age to 16 from 18 is not a right move.
Those in favour of lowering the age feels that teen sex should not be criminalized and it can actually prevent forcible sex or rapes.
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.
While the cabinet is divided, it is only after cabinet clearance, that the proposal will be before Parliament for making it into a law.
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.