The UPA government was Monday forced to make changes in the proposed Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill,2013,after SP,RJD and JD(U) leaders expressed their anxieties against the potential misuse of several provisions in the Bill during the all-party meeting called to discuss the contentious legislation.
BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley sought to ally their apprehensions and also provided reasoned suggestions to make certain changes that would make the Bill acceptable to a larger group of political parties.
The BJP,SP and some others demanded that the age of consent for sex be 18 and not 16 as envisaged in the Bill. They contended that since the age of marriage is 18,the age of consent should be the same. However,there were some parties which said that since pre-marital sex was a reality,the age of consent should be 16.
On stalking and voyeurism,most parties wanted the proposed clauses reworked to prevent the possibility of misuse and also provide sufficient safeguards against filing of false cases by political opponents and those wanting to settle scores. Senior leaders such as Lalu Prasad,Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav said they were worried about provisions made in this connection.
Their anxieties,sources present at the meeting said,caused several amusing moments. Mulayam,it is learnt,sought clarifications about provisions against trafficking that refers to transferring women and wondered whether transferring women officials would be a violation.
Swaraj had to explain these provisions for him to see merit in the proposal.
Mulayam was also curious whether the family of a groom meeting a potential bride would be a violation.
Sharad Yadav offered the JD(U)s support to the Bill but was learnt to have lamented that the proposed law could be misused in cases of romantic affairs gone wrong.
Lalu Prasad apparently expressed his helplessness in supporting the Bill but he also lamented how it could be misused given the crowded public transport and public spaces in the country.
The BJPs Arun Jaitley,however,made constructive suggestions reasoning why the age of consent should not be brought down. He also made a suggestion that stringent penal provisions against police officers not registering cases in any of these crimes should be restricted only to cases of rape to avoid misuse.