Cabinet clears ordinance on crimes against women

New Delhi: An ordinance will be brought to amend the criminal law with focus on crime against women, providing punishment upto the entire life of a convict in case of rape whose terminology has been expanded to 'sexual assault'.
The decision to promulgate the ordinance was taken at a specially-convened meeting of Union Cabinet on Friday, just 20 days ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament.
Being brought against the backdrop of the gangrape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi in December, the ordinance entails changes in the criminal law by amending Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Evidence Act.
The government will now recommend to President Pranab Mukherjee to promulgate the ordinance, which will make the law more women-friendly.
The amendments have been made in tune with the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma Committee, which was formed in the wake of the gangrape incident, besides the proposals in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011 which is pending in the Lok Sabha.
The amendments include changing the definition of 'rape' to 'sexual assault' and enhancement of punishment from seven years upto natural life of a convict, sources said.
There will be provision for 20 year imprisonment for rape and in case of rape or gangrape with grievous hurt, there will be provision sentence upto the convict's natural life.
Among other amendments is the one making acid attack as a separate offence, carrying minimum punishment of 10 years which may go up to life.
For use of force to outrage a woman's modesty, the punishment has been enhanced from two to five years and for indecent gesture, punishment has been enhanced from one to three years.