The Law Commission of India in its 172nd Report on `Review of Rape Laws` as well the National Commission for Women have recommended for stringent punishment for the offence of rape. The High Powered Committee (HPC) constituted, under the Chairmanship of Union Home Secretary, examined the recommendations of the Law Commission submitting its Report along with the draft Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011.
The highlights of the Bill include amending sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C and 376D of the Indian Penal Code 1860, by replacing the word `rape’ wherever it occurs by the words `sexual assault` as to make the offence of sexual assault gender neutral in order to widen the scope of what constitutes sexual assault.
The punishment for sexual assault will be for a minimum of seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life as well as a fine for aggravated sexual assault. The age of consent has been raised from 16 years to 18 years. (However, it is proposed that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife being under sixteen years of age would not constitute sexual assault.) Provision for the enhancement of punishment under sections 354 and 509 and the insertion of sections 326A and 326B in the IPC have also made acid attacks a punishable offense .