Faced with a tough task of seeking Parliament’s nod on its much hyped anti-rape laws by March 22, the cabinet on Thursday approved restoration of the term rape in criminal law and fixing the age of consent for sex at 16 years.
With the differences within the cabinet having been resolved by an informal group of ministers, which had given its recommendations on Wednesday night, the next hurdle for the government is the Monday’s all -party meeting.
Women and child development minister Krishna Tirath was learnt to the lone dissenter on the issue of fixing the age of consensual sex at 16 years, but the cabinet brushed aside the her objection.
The focus now shifts to Monday’s all-party meet, since its outcome will virtually decide if the government would be able to save its criminal laws (amendment) ordinance, issued on February 3, from lapsing.
If the bill to replace the ordinance is not passed till March 22, when both Houses will take a month-long recess, the government will suffer an embarrassment of having failed in getting a strong anti-rape law passed within the deadline.
The proposed bill, based on Justice JS Verma committee’s recommendations, provides for stringent punishment for those found guilty of committing offences like rape, acid attack, stalking and voyeurism.
For the first time, death sentence has been introduced for the offence of rape in cases where a victim is left in a permanent vegetative state.
Those convicts who repeat the offence of rape will also be punished with a death sentence.