New Delhi: Two days after the Lok Sabha passed the anti-rape bill, the Rajya Sabha also cleared the legislation on Thursday. The bill keeps 18 as the age for consensual sex and makes voyeurism and stalking punishable offences.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had earlier in the day moved the bill in the Upper House to provide more teeth to India's anti-rape laws.
A resolution moved by Communist Party of India leader D Raja, disapproving the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance which the bill seeks to replace, was rejected by the House.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also present in the House when the bill was voted on.
Earlier, Rajya Sabha members, irrespective of party affiliation, expressed concern over security of women and demanded strong measures for their protection during the debate.
Participating in the discussion, Maya Singh of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said any one above 16 years of age should be punished if found guilty in a rape case.
"If a juvenile is mentally fit to commit such crime, he should not be considered juvenile. If anyone is above 16, and rapes a woman and murders, he should be given the death sentence," she said.
One of the accused in the December 16 Delhi gang-rape is a juvenile, whose case is being heard by the juvenile justice board.
BJP's M Venkaiah Naidu, meanwhile, said the government should make it mandatory to register FIR in such cases, counsel police officers to make them gender-sensitive and add more women to police force.
He added that moral science should be added to school curriculum to inculcate values in children.
Prabha Thakur of the Congress said the new laws should ensure that justice is done to every woman.
"Presently women do not feel free to register cases of rape or molestation because they fear that they will be maligned and would not get justice," she said.
"If justice is done, more women will file cases. If punishment is given, the criminals would also feel afraid," she said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist's TN Seema backed making 16 years the age of consent for sex.
"Age of consent should be 16 years, a safeguard can be put that the boy should not be more than five years older than the girl," she said.
She also demanded that rape of a dalit or tribal woman by a non-dalit or non-tribal man should be considered an aggravated crime.
DMK's Vasanthi Stanley suggested inclusion of transgenders in the bill, while Rashtriya Janata Dal member Ram Kripal Yadav demanded removing provisions against stalking.
Moving the bill, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had said the gang-rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old in Delhi shook the conscience of the whole nation, and there was a demand for a stronger law against rape.
"The braveheart who fought for her dignity, we can at least honour her by passing this bill soon," he said.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which maintains 18 years as the age for consensual sex, and makes acts like disrobing, voyeurism and stalking punishable offences, was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
(With IANS inputs)
First Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 15:10