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Marital rape on draft bill radar

New Delhi, June 23: After bringing the amended Criminal Procedure Code into force, the Centre is planning to make changes to the Indian Penal Code by redefining rape to introduce more stringent punishment of the accused.

“A draft bill is being prepared to change the definition of rape,” home minister Shivraj Patil said.

Patil refused to give any details of the changes being considered, but ministry sources said officials preparing the draft bill had been asked to see if marital rape (forced sex by husband) should be included.

Giving details of the CrPC amendments, Patil said the government had decided to make “plea bargain” ' a US concept ' a part of the statute to allow settlement of cases between the accused and the victim through various measures, including compensation.

This would only apply to offences carrying jail terms less than 10 years and would have to be done through the court.

“Though all other provisions of the CrPC amendment bill were notified and brought into effect on April 12, 2006, plea bargaining was left out deliberately as the parliamentary standing committee, while examining the bill, had recommended setting up of an independent prosecuting agency for success of this provision,” Patil said.

The government has now decided to notify plea bargain to make it a law, Patil said, observing that the act has the provision for setting up a directorate of prosecution.

Besides plea bargain, the act has clauses to prevent witnesses from being threatened to give false evidence in criminal cases. It prohibits arrest of a woman after sunset and before sunrise other than in exceptional circumstances, makes it mandatory for police to give information about the arrest of a person as well as the place where he is being held to anyone who may be nominated by the arrested for sending such information.

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