BJP to support anti-rape Bill

New Delhi: BJP today said it will support the government in passing the anti-rape Bill by voting in its favour.

"BJP is in favour of passing the anti-rape law. It will vote in favour of the Bill and help the government in passing it," party's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde told reporters here after a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting.

The meeting was chaired by L K Advani and attended by its top leaders including Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. It was the last meeting of the Parliamentary Party before the recess during the Budget Session of Parliament.

Munde said the government has agreed to the party's demand to keep the age of consent for sex at 18 years in the proposed legislation. "BJP wanted to keep the age of consent for sex at 18 years and the government has agreed to this demand," he said.

The Opposition party had put forth its suggestions at the all-party meet yesterday and sought requisite changes in the proposed law.

After stiff opposition from various political parties on lowering the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years, the government had agreed to stick to 18 years and also watered down provisions on stalking and voyeurism in the Bill that seeks to hand down stringent punishment for crimes against women.

The age of consent for sex was 16 years under the IPC before the government promulgated an Ordinance on February 3 this year, raising it to 18 years.

The Ordinance lapses on April 4 and the government and most parties are of the view that the Bill be passed with suitable changes before the Budget Session goes into recess on March 22.