Cabinet divided, GoM set up on rape bill
New Delhi: Amid persisting differences in the Cabinet, the tough law against rape and other crimes was on Tuesday referred to a Group of Ministers which held its first meeting and reported substantial progress in evolving a consensus.
The Group of Ministers (GoM) is expected to finalise its task tomorrow to pave the way for the Union Cabinet to consider the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 afresh on Thursday.
At today's hour-long special meeting, the Cabinet was divided over certain provisions pertaining to stalking, voyeurism and lowering the age of consensual sex to 16 years, as also the definition of rape.
Thereafter, the decision was taken to refer to an GoM headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram the Bill which seeks to replace the Ordinance issued on February three.
Soon after the GoM held first meeting. "Now we have completed the work substantially. I think we will require another hour or so," Chidambaram told reporters.
He said the GoM will meet again tomorrow evening and the work will be completed and the bill will go to the Cabinet on Thursday.
"Sections that we have covered, all points of view have been taken into account and reconciled and the final version of the clause has emerged and we can do that for the remaining sections also and tomorrow the work will be complete," he said.
The Cabinet meeting this morning, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saw some ministers like the Law Minister insisting on adequate safeguards with regard to provisions on stalking to check against false complaints, sources said.
There were also differing views on the provisions regarding voyerism, which is proposed to be made criminal offence, and lowering of age of consensual sex to 16 years from the current 18 years.
Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath is strongly to lowering the age of consent.