The Lok Sabha on Tuesday took up a bill which provides for stringent punishment for crimes against women including natural life term or even death for repeat offenders of rape besides various penalties for stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which seeks to replace an Ordinance promulgated on February 3, was moved by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in the backdrop of national outrage over the Delhi gangrape incident of December 16.
The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
With an aim of providing a strong deterrent against rapes and gang rapes, the proposed legislation states that an offender can be sentenced to rigourous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life, meaning imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life and with a fine.
It has provisions for handing out death sentence to offenders who may have been convicted earlier for such crimes. Moving the Bill for consideration, Shinde sought the support of all parties, saying ‘let us honour the braveheart’, referring to the 23-year-old victim of gang rape by six persons in the national capital last year.
"The time has come to send out a loud, clear and deterrent signal that the society will not tolerate such errant behaviour," he said, underlining that the Bill was being brought to plug loopholes in the law.
The Bill, for the first time, defines acid attack as a crime and also grants a victim the right to self-defence. It also has provisions for awarding a minimum 10-year jail term for perpetrators of the act.