Rape a gender-neutral offence

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a proposal to make rape a gender-neutral offence in the country, by amending the criminal law.

Accepting another proposal of the Women and Child Development Ministry, the Cabinet also gave its nod to make acid attacks a separate offence to be punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), with a maximum sentence of ten years.

Both the amendments have been proposed by the WCD Ministry as part of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011.  

The ministry has proposed to replace “rape” with “sexual assault” in the IPC, to bring female offenders under the ambit of the law.

To make acid attacks a separate offence, the ministry has proposed to include sections 326A (hurt by acid attack) and 326B (attempt to throw or administer acid), under section 326 of the IPC that deals with the offence of voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

Following a surge in the number of acid attacks on women in past few years, there were views in different sections of the society and the government that a strict law should be brought in place to deal with the menace.

In its meeting, Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Krishna Tirath said: “The Cabinet also decided that certain sections of criminal procedure code (CrPC) or IPC, which define minors as below the age of 16, will be amended and a uniform age bar of below 18 years will be set as the legal age for minors.”

Hike in sugarcane price

The government has approved a 17 per cent hike in sugarcane price that mills pay to farmers to Rs 170 per quintal for 2012-13. “The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the hike in the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane to Rs 170 per quintal for 2012-13 marketing year (October-September),” sources said.

The FRP, the minimum price that sugarcane farmers are legally guaranteed, for the ongoing marketing year stands at Rs 145 per quintal.

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