New Delhi, March 14: The cabinet today cleared the criminal law (amendment) bill with almost no changes to the recommendations made by the empowered group of ministers despite reservations from the women and child development ministry and the law ministry.
The three aspects of the bill as proposed by the home ministry — the age of consent for sex, inclusion of voyeurism and the replacement of the words “sexual assault” with rape — which were a bone of contention between the ministries have all been made part of the bill.
For the first time, acid attack with punishment ranging from five years to life imprisonment, stalking with punishment from one to three years in prison, and voyeurism which brings a jail sentence of one to seven years have been made criminal offences under the Indian Penal Code. Sustained stalking will be a non-bailable offence.
Repeat offences of voyeurism and inappropriate touch, gesture and remarks have also been made non-bailable offences. Provisions seeking strong action against those filing false complaints were dropped from the bill.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, also lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years and makes “rape” gender-specific offence. Lowering the age of consent had met with resistance mainly from the women and child development ministry, which had argued that it would encourage sexual abuse of children. The law ministry had raised doubts on the possible misuse of the clause on voyeurism and stalking.
According to the fresh draft, a person convicted of rape will have to spend the rest of his life in jail. It retains the provision that if rape leads to the death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state, it can attract the death penalty.