A committee under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd) Shri JS Verma, former Chief Justice of India, is working on a report on the review of present laws so as to provide for speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault. Meanwhile, another bill the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, is pending in Parliament. It was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 4 by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
According to the bill, both men and women will be able to invoke the provisions of a criminal law in case of sexual assault. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, replaces the word 'rape' by the phrase 'sexual assault' and seeks to widen the scope of the offence.
The amendment bill expands the definition so that cases of sexual assault where victims were male would fall under the same law along with cases where victims were women. At present, the offence is defined under section 375 of the Indian Penal Code as per which a man is said to commit 'rape' in case he has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will.
The bill also carries provisions which make carrying out of acid attacks a separate offence punishable by a maximum of ten years' in jail while an attempt to do so could send the accused to jail for 5-7 years.
Under the bill, an offender can be jailed for life in cases of sexual assault, irrespective of the victim's gender. The term 'sexual assault' has also been widened to include forced unnatural sex.
The bill lays down strict provisions under which persons below 18 making a complaint will not have to face the accused in court or police stations. It has raised the age of consent from 16 to 18 years.Full text of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012: