Anti-rape bill deferred; referred to GoM
New Delhi, Mar 12 : The Union Cabinet on Tuesday deferred the anti-rape law bill for the second time in six days after differences on the key provisions of the bill emerged during its meeting on the issue.A Group of Ministers (GoM) will review the bill now.
According to reports, the GoM is likely to include Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
Union Women and Child Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath said the bill will be cleared by the cabinet and passed by the Parliament.
"The bill will be passed but it will take some time," Tirath told media.
"The age of consensual sex should be 18....Since the age of marriage is 18 and 21 years so lowering the age might send a wrong message to the society," she told media.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (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 terms '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 Dec 16 and her subsequent death from injuries.
Justice Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanian, were the other two members of the committee.