The Union Cabinet on 14 March 2013 cleared a Bill providing for severe punishment for rape, acid attack, stalking and voyeurism more to the point reducing the age of consent for sex to 16 years.
The bill which was named the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years with making of rape as a gender-specific offence under which men only can be charged for it. The Bill is brought in line with the Indian Penal Code, but at variance with the Child Protection Act, 2012, which raised it to 18.
The bill brought against the milieu of the 16 December 2012 Delhi gangrape, provides for minimum jail term of 20 years for rape which may be extended to natural life of the convict in jail. There is also provision for death sentence if the victim dies or is left in a 'persistent vegetative state'. Stalking, voyeurisms have been defined as criminal offences in the bill. Sustained stalking will be a non-bailable offence.
As per the bill there is replacement in more general expression sexual assault used in the ordinance. It also provides for the death sentence if the rape victim dies or ends up in a vegetative state.
The approval of the Cabinet paves the way for introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 in Parliament before it goes into recess on 22 March 2013.
The bill also proposes a punishment of not less than 10 years to a maximum of life imprisonment Defining acid attack as a separate IPC offence. Repeat offences of voyeurism, inappropriate touch, gesture and remarks have been recommended as non-bailable offences.