With President Pranab Mukherjee giving his assent to the Criminal Law Amendment Bill-2013, India got a new anti-rape law ensuring stringent punishment for crimes against women. The Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament last month.
The new law incorporating enhanced punishment for acid attacks, voyeurism and stalking also fixed the age of consensual sex at 18. The new provisions in the law reflects the recommendation of Justice J S Verma Committee, constituted in the wake of the Delhi gangrape case in December last year. The law, which amended various sections of Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, has replaced an anti-rape ordinance promulgated on February 3.
“The President of India has accorded his assent to the Bill on April 2, 2013, and it will now be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.... The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 19, 2013, and by the Rajya Sabha on March 21, 2013,” said a statement issued by Union Home Ministry on Wednesday.
The anti-rape law provides death penalty in rarest of rare rape cases causing death or persistent vegetative state under Section 376-A.
In its effort to make acid attack a heinous offence, the government wanted life imprisonment for the perpetrators. However, it was rejected by the Lok Sabha on March 19. As per the new law, acid attack would attract a 10-year prison term, which could extend to imprisonment for life and fine to be paid to the victim. Acid attack has also been made a non-bailable offence.
Disrobing a woman by force even at a private place, including a house, would be a non-bailable offence with jail term of up to seven years.
Under pressure from political parties, the government had also diluted the stringent provisions on stalking and voyeurism in the criminal amendment bill. As per the amendments in the new law, both the offences would be bailable for first-time offenders. However, repeat offenders would be denied bail and punishment extended to a maximum of five years in jail.