UPA buckles, keeps age for consensual sex at 18
Anti-rape bill to be tabled in the Lok Sabha today
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government retained the age for consensual sex to 18 years instead of 16 owing to strong opposition during an all-party meeting.
Despite the politics, interestingly, the age of consent for sex has always been 16 years as defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) but the criminal law (amendment) ordinance issued on February 3 post-Delhi gang-rape had increased it to 18 years.
Since the government is in a hurry, it is learnt, to table the draft legislation in Parliament, a Cabinet meeting held on Monday evening cleared the suggestions of political parties, including the one on age of consent for having sex.
The government convened a meeting of all parties in the morning. As a consensus eluded, another round of meeting was held in the afternoon.
Many parties, whether in Opposition or UPA allies, including the BJP, CPI, Samajwadi Party and the BSP were against lowering the age to 16, ignorant of the fact that this age has been in existence for decades in the IPC. But, other parties were open to it.
Some parties also expressed reservation on the loose definition of provisons in sections dealing with sexual harassment.
For instance, the bill intends to insert new rules in Section 354 of the IPC to tackle “stalking.” Section 354(d) sub-clause 111 says any man who “watches or spies on a woman in any manner” will be charged with stalking.