The Union cabinet on Thursday cleared amendments to the landmark Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill 2011, which will make sexual intimacy with an individual under 18 years a criminal offence - punishable with at least seven years' jail extendable to life imprisonment.
The cabinet, however, referred the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill to an inter-ministerial group headed by home minister P Chidambaram after senior ministers said some more discussion was needed on the amendments proposed.
The bill ensures a safe environment for women at the workplace. The cabinet reportedly felt that, in its present form, the bill was loaded in favour of the complainant, which could encourage false complaints.
While approving 18 years as the age bar for legal sex in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, the cabinet has decided to drop the age of consent clause, where a sexual act committed with consent, on an individual between 16 and 18 years, was not considered rape.
The amendments to the bill will now be introduced in the ongoing Parliament session.