Decision on anti-rape law bill cannot be taken in haste: Khurshid

With the Cabinet deferring the anti-rape law bill, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said the decision cannot be taken in haste.

Updated: Mar 12, 2013, 14:10 PM IST

New Delhi: With the Union Cabinet deferring the anti-rape law bill, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said the decision cannot be taken in haste, and added it is important that both the government and the opposition agree on it.

Khurshid said the Union Cabinet is continuing to consider the anti-rape law bill.

"We cannot do something in haste. It`s a very important piece of legislation. We know what the deadlines are. We will try to meet those deadlines that`s why we are working overtime to meet the deadlines. But it`s important that not just the government, but the opposition altogether have clarity on something that will have far reaching implications on which there is tremendous amount of public interest and determination by groups that have been working for years on these issues. And we have been through several revisions," said Khurshid.

"So, when we do something that has such deep and far reaching impacts on society, we need to be sure that we are doing the right thing," he added, while interacting with mediapersons outside the Parliament here.

A bill, which seeks to make punishment for crime against women more stringent, was earlier in the day referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) for further consultations after differences erupted in the meeting of the Union Cabinet on certain provisions, including lowering the age of consensual sex to 16 years.

The anti-rape ordinance will be brought before the Union Cabinet only after the GoM holds a discussion and proposes changes to it.

Despite differences in the government over the bill, the UPA Government is committed to introducing the bill in the current Budget Session of Parliament.

Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath told media outside Parliament that the anti-rape law will be passed, but after some more deliberation.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde yesterday said that the bill would replace the ordinance that had been promulgated by the government last month with this objective in mind.

Shinde said there were no differences on the provisions in the new bill.

The bill introduces a death penalty for rapists in cases where the victim dies as a result of rape or is left in a persistent vegetative state. Gang-rape is to be punished by 20 years in prison, extendable up to life in prison. Similar punishment is provided for repeat offenders as well.

It may be recalled that the Centre had constituted the Justice Verma Committee to recommend changes in the laws that deal with crimes against women in wake of nationwide protest against the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012.