New Delhi: The Upper House of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha, on Thursday passed the Anti-rape Bill which keeps the age for consensual sex at 18 years and makes voyeurism and stalking punishable offences.

READ MORE: Lok Sabha clears Anti-rape Bill

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, approved by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, was moved in the Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. A resolution moved by Communist Party of India leader D. Raja, disapproving the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance which the bill seeks to replace, was rejected by the House.

Terming it as a "unique law", Shinde said the government is open to further improvement if there is such a need. Replying to queries, Shinde said the purpose of the bill is to provide stringent punishment also for offences like stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks and human trafficking. "The bill is significant as it aims to protect mothers and sisters of this country. Over years, such stringent law has not been made," he noted.

On whether influential people would be covered under the law, he said, "Those in authority who abuse and influence victims...politicians and all financially influential persons are covered under section 367 of the law." The Bill seeks to replace an Ordinance promulgated on February 3, which will expire on April 4. It seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also present in the House when the bill was passed.

On human trafficking of minor girls, Shinde said the government has taken cognisance of this offence and certain sections have been incorporated to give stringent punishment. "Police officers and executive officers involved in such offence will also be punished under the law," he said.


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