Criminal Law (Amendment ) Act 2013

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill passed by the Lok Sabha on 19th March, 2013 and the Rajya Sabha on 21st March, 2013 got the assent of the President of India on 2nd April, 2013. The law is now reffered to as 'The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013'.  The purpose of the legislation was to amend various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, so as to prevent atrocities against women.

The ammended laws have provisions for longer sentence for rape convicts, including life-term and death sentence, besides providing for stringent punishment for offences such as acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism - spying on a woman when naked. Acid attack convicts can get a 10-year jail sentence. The law has fixed age for consensual sex at 18 years. Now boys of 16-18 years or slightly older may be branded rapists if they have consensual sex with a girl of the same age and the judge will have no discretion in the matter. A proximity clause that clarifies that sexual intercourse between a teenager of 16-18 years with a person not more than four years older will not be criminalized, is needed. But marital rape is still legal - unless the couple are separated. As per the law, a rape convict can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 20 years, which may extend to remainder of the convict’s natural life and death sentence to repeat offenders. For the first time, stalking and voyeurism have been defined as non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time.

The law widened the definition of rape, broadened the ambit of aggravated rape and enhanced the punishment for such crimes. It provides that all hospitals shall immediately provide first aid and/or medical treatment free of cost to the victims of acid attack or rape, and failure to do so will attract punishment. If a woman approaches a police station that does not have a female officer, she needs to be taken to the closest all-women’s police station, or a female officer may be called in, as per the law. The Justice Verma Committee report has laid out a comprehensive roadmap for women's constitutional equality, which includes police reforms, educational reforms, training of personnel in the criminal justice system, services such as well equipped rape-crisis centres.

Reference

  1. The Criminal Law (Amendment ) Act, 2013.