Just three days after the Centre decided to lower the age of consent for sex at 16 years, the opposition parties and even the UPA's outside allies forced it to raise the lower age limit to 18 years and also dilute other provisions of the bill to put a check on its misuse.
The government later bought peace with the opposition and got the amendments cleared by the cabinet, hence making the way clear for the passage of the bill by Friday. After meeting with the opposition parties within a span of three hours to iron out the differences, parliamnetary affairs minister Kamal Nath expressed satisfaction while saying that the bill would be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The government also diluted the definition of new offences like stalking and voyeurism in the Indian Penal Code under pressure from the Samajwadi Party, a key outside ally which has bailed it out of crisis many a times in the past.
The Criminal Laws Ordinance was promulgated by the President on February 3 in the wake of the public outrage which had engulfed over the December 16 Delhi gangrape. The Ordinance lapses on April 4.
The government also responded to the strong objections raised by the women groups and restored the term 'rape' in place of sexual assault in the ordinance and made it a gender-specific crime.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said that the state governments should have been consulted before amending the law. SP leader Ramgopal Yadav cautioned that an aggressive law could become a deterrent to women's employment opportunities as people would feel apprehensive to hire them, even as domestic helps.