Following several rounds of consultations and after having exchanged four drafts, the law ministry has cleared the home ministry proposal to restore the term 'rape' in criminal law and reduce the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years.
With the two key ministries finally agreeing on the main provisions, decks have now been cleared for the cabinet to consider fresh changes in the anti-rape law on Tuesday.
The government is racing against time to get Parliament's nod on the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill before March 22, failing which its much-hyped anti-rape ordinance issued last month will cease to be a law.
The law ministry, in its final comments on the latest changes in the bill, stated: "There appears to be no legal and constitutional objection to the proposals. We concur with the home ministry's draft cabinet note."
On the issue of restoring the term 'rape' - replaced by 'sexual assault' in the ordinance - in Indian Penal Code, the government's legal arm stated :"The term rape is widely accepted. The only change is that the offence has been made gender specific meaning that the perpetrator can only be a man and the victims will continue to be gender neutral - men and women both can complain."
On the other contentious issue of lowering the age of consent, the law ministry has advised the women and child development ministry to make changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, passed by Parliament last year.
"It is advisable to have harmony in criminal laws on related subjects. Since the age of consent for sex is being fixed at 16 years in the IPC. The WCD ministry has to make an amendment in the child protection law to make it in line with the penal code," the ministry stated.