Sex with a person under the age of 18 — even if consensual — will be considered rape and punished by a seven-year prison sentence.
To guard children against abuse, the government plans changes — as recommended by a parliamentary panel — to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011.
The cabinet Thursday is likely to clear the amendments that will make sex with an under-18 person a criminal offence.
Doing away with the age of consent was in tune with the UN convention on the rights of children, said an official on condition of anonymity.
"It was felt that including element of consent would put the focus on the victim at the time of trial and lead to re-victimisation."
At present, having sex with a person below 16 is rape.
Trafficking minors for sexual abuse, too, has been made an offence, punishable by at least a year in jail.
The bill, which seeks to protect children from sexual assault, harassment and pornography, defines any person below the age of 18 as a "child".
Once cleared by the cabinet, the amendments will be tabled in Parliament during the ongoing budget session.
The original bill, introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2011, had 16 as the age of consent -- consistent with the IPC and also with the "emerging social reality of greater level of awareness and exposure of adolescents."
A parliamentary panel, however, said the age of consent be treated irrelevant in the case of under-18s.