Cabinet approves Law ensuring rigorous punishment for sexual assault

The Union Cabinet approved the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, in Parliament to expand the reach of the legal offence of sexual assault to ensure more rigorous punishments for sexual offences including rape.

What are the key amendments in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012?

  • The Bill replaces the word ‘rape’ with the phrase ‘sexual assault’ in order to make rape a gender-neutral offence.
  • Under this Bill, the definition of rape has been expanded to include the cases of sexual assault where the victims are male and brings them under the same law along with cases where the victims were women.
  • The punishment for sexual assault will be a minimum of 7 years which may be extended to imprisonment for life. For much severe sexual assault, the punishment will be rigorous imprisonment not less than 10 years which may extend to life imprisonment and also fine.
  • It was also adjudicated to change the definition of a minor. Currently some sections of the IPC and the CPC (Criminal Procedure Code) consider those below 16 as minor. Subsequent to the the amendment a person below 18 would be considered as minor.
  • The age of consent has been raised from present 16 years to 18 years.
  • However, it is proposed that the sexual intercourse by a man with own wife being under 16 years of age will not be considered as sexual assault.
  • Provision for enhancement of punishment under sections 354 and 509 of IPC and insertion of sections 326A and 326B in the IPC for making “Acid Attack” a particular offence has also been brought in.


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