Definition of rape not being diluted, says Chidambaram

New Delhi: Rejecting suggestions that government was diluting the definition of rape, Home Minister P Chidambaram Tuesday said moves were afoot to widen the term to include all kinds of sexual assault.

"We are not going to dilute the definition of rape. The definition of rape will be widened to include all kinds of sexual assaults," he said replying to supplementaries during Question Hour.

The suggestion to make sexual assault gender neutral was made by a high-powered committee headed by Home Secretary G K Pillai a few days back.

A similar recommendation was also made in a report of the Law Commission, Chidambaram said adding the Home Ministry would soon bring a bill in this regard.

Making sexual assault "gender neutral" will imply that the relevant sections of IPC can be slapped on accused of any gender who has committed the crime.

As per Section 375 of IPC, penetration is sufficient to constitute sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape but with the proposed replacements coming in, sexual assault will also cover crimes like sodomy, insertion of foreign object and other similar offences which do not come under the present definition of rape.

To a question on harassment of 'in-laws' in case of dowry deaths, Chidambaram said instructions have been issued to arrest only those who are directly involved in the case and not the extended family.

The House witnessed some lighter moments when DMK leader T R Baalu sought figures from the government on the number of "greedy mothers-in-law" convicted in dowry-related cases.

However, Chidambaram said it would be difficult to give the requested figures.

The Home Minister said according to National Crime Records Bureau 8172 cases of dowry deaths were registered in 2008, while chargesheets were filed in 6700 cases. As many as 5814 persons were convicted.

According to the figures submitted, 7618 dowry death cases were registered in 2006 of which chargesheets were filed in 6220 cases and 5144 persons were convicted.

In 2007, 8093 cases were registered, 7048 chargesheets filed and 5580 persons convicted.

To a question, Chidambaram said the ministry was working on defining honour killings.