In a big boost to the government’s efforts to clear the anti-rape bill, BSP came out and announced its support to the legislation.
Ahead of Monday’s all-party meeting convened by the government to evolve a consensus to enable smooth passage of the bill, BSP chief Mayawati termed the law a “necessity” and pledged to support it, even as SP decided to oppose it “tooth and nail”.
Speaking on the anti-rape bill, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said it had been prepared on the “recommendations of mentally retarded people. We will oppose the bill at the all-party meeting. If it is brought for voting in Parliament, the SP will vote against it”, Yadav said.
The SP’s position is that the bill is “anti-women” and will reduce opportunities for women in the garb of providing them security. The BSP chief, on the other hand, said that possible contentious provisions of the bill could be discussed in Parliament.
The legislation – called the Criminal Law (Amendment) bill 2013 finds agreement with the BJP, but with a rider that sections of the party are not in agreement with the provision lowering the age of consent in sexual activity from 18 to 16.
Senior party leader Najma Heptullah told HT: “If a person below 18 is a juvenile and is given relaxed punishments because he isn’t mentally mature enough to know the consequences of what he is doing, how is a child of 16 mature enough to consent to sexual activity?”
The government is keen on passing the legislation before the Parliament session recess beginning on March 22, as the anti-rape ordinance lapses on April 4.