New Delhi: Expressing reservation over consensual sex with children aged between 16-18 years is not a criminal offence, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath on Saturday said she has taken up the issue with the Home Ministry.

The minister said, "We have talked to the Home Ministry that if the marriageable age in India is 18 and this is the age when one attains maturity, why should sex from 16-18 not be considered a crime. I do not agree to it (the provisions of the bill)."

The minister expressed her opinion on the sidelines of a function of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) here.

The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011 provides for legalising consensual sex with a person aged between 16 and 18 years. The new law, when enacted, will cover all new aspects of sexual offences against children not covered elsewhere.

Tirath also welcomed the increase in monthly remuneration of Anganwadi workers from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 in the recent budget.

Keen on increasing the number of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the minister said, "We have constantly asked the states to have SCPCRs as only 11 states have it as of now."

The proposed bill aims at protecting children against offences of sexual assault and harassment, pornography and provides for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences.

The bill, which was approved by the Union Cabinet for being tabled in Parliament on March 3, also provides for a jail term up to 10 years or even life imprisonment.

(Agencies)