President Pranab Mukerjee approved India’s new anti-rape bill on Tuesday, which provides for life term and death sentences for offenders, besides strict punishment for crimes like acid attacks, stalking, and voyeurism.
The President gave his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013, replacing an ordinance circulated on February 3, 2013.
The bill, introduced after country-wide protests over Delhi gang-rape, amends various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the code of criminal procedure, the Indian Evidence Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act. According to a Government of India release, the Bill will now be called as Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013.
The law has made the age of consent to be 18.
The law defines stalking and voyeurism as non-bailable offenses, if repeated for a second time, while perpetrators of acid attack will serve ten years in jail. The amendments to prevent stalking and voyeurism were introduced to define and prescribe punishment for such offenses.
The bill provides that all hospitals should immediately provide first aid free of cost to the victims of acid attack or rape, and failure to do so will be punishable.
The law has defined the act of rape to encompass wider context, and also calls for rigorous punishment for people in position of public authority who commit rape. The convicts in these cases can be sentenced to not less than ten years which may be extended to life term according to the law.