Cabinet agrees to bring down age of consent to 16

New Delhi : The cabinet Thursday cleared the anti-rape bill by agreeing to replace the word “sexual assault” with “rape” and reducing the age of consent from 18 to 16 years, informed sources said.

The sources said the cabinet cleared the bill at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The cabinet had Tuesday deferred a decision on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill due to lack of unanimity.

The Group of Ministers (GoM) set up by the prime minister to resolve differences met Wednesday to thrash out pending issues, and agreed on replacing the word “sexual assault” with “rape” and on reducing the age of consent from 18 years to 16.

The government is keen to pass the bill in the first half of budget session which ends March 22.

Sources said the government will now decide whether to go to parliament directly with the bill or call an all-party meeting March 18.