Anti-rape bill deferred: Shinde proposes, cabinet disposes

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New Delhi, March 12: The much-awaited anti-rape bill was once again deferred over differences within cabinet on Tuesday, March 12.

But, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has expressed confidence that the bill would be passed during the ongoing Budget session.

"The Group of Ministers have been appointed and the meetings will take place. By Thursday, it will be cleared... Not more than this," Shinde told reporters outside Parliament.

Protests against rape

Sources say the bill has been now referred to Group of Ministers (GoM) and selected lawyers, who will look into the points of differences.

Then the GoM will come back to the cabinet. Sources say cabinet members could not reach a consensus on contentious issues like voyeurism, stalking, age of consent (from 18 to 16) and the definition of term rape or sexual assault.

Criticising the difference within the cabinet regarding the anti-rape bill, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had asked the Congress-led UPA to sort out their differences.

"The whole country is waiting for a law to come. We are not concerned with the battle between two ministries," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

The difference of opinion is mostly between the home ministry, law ministry and women and child development ministry.

However, Shinde on Monday had ruled out that there were any differences between various ministries. "There is a difference of opinion on legal points only, which is being addressed to and it will be taken up during the special cabinet meeting," said Shinde.

This bill will replace the ordinance on crimes against women promulgated last month which had prescribed life imprisonment as the maximum punishment for those committing rape. It will also replace the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 introduced in the Lok Sabha in December last.

Earlier finance minister P Chidambaram, who heads the Group of Ministers on media, had also dismissed reports about differences in the government over the bill and said there are different points expressed by different people with some suggesting that the word sexual assault must be retained while others favour the term rape.

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