Anti-rape bill: All parties meet today

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 18, 2013 08:36 hrs

Despite the Union Cabinet clearing the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill for a tough anti-rape law, with recommendations made by the Group of Ministers (GoM), leaders from different political parties will discuss the bill at the all-party meet on Monday in an attempt to reach a consensus.

The anti-rape bill proposes to reduce the age of consent from 18 years to 16 years.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to make its position clear in the all-party meet. However, its ideological patron RSS has strong reservations on lowering the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years, reports said.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Friday said her party will support the anti-rape bill that was cleared by the Union Cabinet last week.

"We will support the bill in whatever form it is tabled...We will not oppose it," the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister told media.

The Left parties are likely to support the Bill but with reported demands of certain safeguards since the age of consent for sex has been lowered.

While the Trinamool Congress is expected to oppose the lowering of the age of consent for sex, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) are reportedly uncomfortable with clauses dealing with voyeurism and stalking.

Last week, the Group of Ministers (GoM) working on a draft of an anti-rape bill had finally agreed on the handful of contentious provisions that have been stalling the law.

Meeting under a 24-hour deadline last week, the panel, headed by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had agreed to reduce the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16.

The consensus on the law was finally reached after the GoM, including Chidambaram, Kumar, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal conducted a meeting.

Flaying the law enforcers and calling for police reforms, the Justice Verma Committee tasked by the government to suggest stringent laws against sexual violence submitted its "path-breaking" recommendations on Jan 23 to the Home Ministry, calling for enhancement of punishment to life sentence for the crime while stopping short of awarding death penalty.

The three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma submitted its report to the government a month after it was formed following a national outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a Delhi bus on Dec 16 and her subsequent death from injuries.

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