New Delhi: The anti-rape bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, a day after Union Cabinet cleared the controversial bill by agreeing to keep the age of consent for sex at 18.

READ MORE: BJP to vote in favour of anti-rape Bill

Moving the Bill for consideration, Shinde sought the support of all parties, saying "let us honour the braveheart", referring to the 23-year-old victim of gang-rape by six persons in the national capital last year. "Time has come to send out a loud, clear and deterrent signal that the society will not tolerate such errant behaviour," he said, underlining that the Bill was being brought to plug loopholes in the law.

The Bill, for the first time, defines acid attack as a crime and also grants a victim the right to self-defence. It also has provisions for awarding a minimum 10-year jail term for perpetrators of the act.

On Monday evening, the Cabinet had agreed to keep the age of consent for sex at 18 years from 16. BJP has already said that it will support the government in passing the anti-rape Bill by voting in its favour. BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde on Tuesday said that the government has agreed to the party's demand to keep the age of consent for sex at 18 years in the proposed legislation and so the party will support the government in passing the bill.

BJP to vote in favour of anti-rape Bill
BJP to vote in favour of anti-rape Bill

The sources said the government on Monday agreed to stick to 18 years as age of consent following suggestions at the all-party meeting. They said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) were among the parties which had reservations over the lowering the age of consent to 16.

However, the government agreed to lower the age of consent to 16 under the proposed Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, following inter-ministerial consultations. The Ordinance is lapsing on April 4 and the government and most parties are of the view that the Bill be passed with suitable changes before the Budget Session goes into recess on March 22.

The age of consent in Ordinance was 18 and it was brought down to 16 in the proposed Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013. Before the ordinance was promulgated, the age of consent was 16. It has been at 16 years for the past 30 years. Before that, the age of consent for sex was considered by the age of puberty which had created confusion, forcing government to fix it at 16.

The Bill had provisions for safeguard against misuse. But the GoM to which it was referred to decided to drop it, maintaining the existing provisions in IPC have sufficient safeguards. The Criminal Laws Ordinance, which made anti-rape laws more stringent, was promulgated by the President on February 3 in the wake of public outrage over the December 16 Delhi gang-rape.

(JPN/Agencies)

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