New Delhi: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home has decided against lowering the age of juveniles below 18 years of age despite suggestions by several members. This came as the Home Ministry said the Women and Child Development Ministry was examining the matter. Some members also opposed a recommendation on the issue saying without consulting experts, the panel should not rush to conclusions.
The committee, set up to examine the Criminal Law Amendment Bill of 2012, has also proposed to replace the word 'rape' with 'sexual assault' to broaden the definition of crimes against women. It has pressed for death sentence for rapists in cases where the victim dies or is left in a vegetative state.
This is in line with the recommendations made by the government. The committee has also decided against lowering the age of juveniles.
The bill introduced in Lok Sabha last December will be withdrawn to make way for a fresh bill in the ongoing Budget session of Parliament. The new anti-rape bill, if passed, will replace the Criminal Law ordinance put into effect earlier this month. This comes two months after the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student.
Going beyond its mandate to recommend changes in the bill, the panel has also suggested improving courts' infrastructure and said adequate funds should be earmarked for setting up fast track courts. It said in case crime is committed by a subordinate in the knowledge of the higher officer and he does not take immediate action, then he should be held responsible and his omission should be recorded in his confidential report.
Notwithstanding the ordinance, the committee decided to study the bill and give its recommendations on a fast track basis so that these can be incorporated in the fresh bill. Besides the 2012 bill, the panel had examined the Justice JS Verma Committee recommendations and the ordinance before making recommendations.
(With additional information from PTI)