The Union Cabinet has approved introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, in Parliament seeking to widen the scope of sexual offence and replace the word ‘rape’ by the words ‘sexual assault’ to make the offence gender neutral.
The highlights of the Bill include substituting sections 375, 376, 376A and 376B by replacing the existing sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C and 376D of the Indian Penal Code,1860, replacing the word ‘rape’ wherever it occurs by the words ‘sexual assault’ to make the offence of sexual assault gender neutral. The punishment for sexual assault will be a minimum of seven years which may extend to Life imprisonment and also fine for aggravated sexual assault, i.e., by a police officer within his jurisdiction or a public servant/manager or person talking advantage of his position of authority etc. The punishment will be rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than ten years which may extend to life imprisonment and also fine.
The age of consent has been raised from 16 years to 18 years in sexual assault. However, it is proposed that the sexual intercourse by a man with own wife being under sixteen years of age is not sexual assault. Provision have been made for enhancement of punishment under sections 354 and 509 of IPC and insertion of sections 326A and 326B in the IPC for making acid attack a specific offence.
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