Government on Tuesday said the draft of bill on sexual offences does not talk about legally permitting 12-year-old children to have non-penetrative sex and instead fixes the age of consent at 16 years and above.
“It is wrong. Any sexual act below 16 years would be an offence,” Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath told reporters reacting to reports that the draft of Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Bill, 2010 talks about legalising consensual sex between 12-year olds.
She further clarified that there was no difference of opinion with the Law Ministry on this issue.
Official sources said that the provision might have been part of the discussions carried out by the National Protection of Child Rights on the bill and could have been part of a draft circulated at the forum.
But, it was officially rejected by the ministry while finalising the draft of the bill.Tirath added that the the draft finalised by the ministry which has been sent to the states for consideration does not talk about any such provision.
“Had it been the case, then the issue would have been raised during the state minister’s meeting held in the capital last week,” she said.
The Minister said that the bill was likely to be introduced in the budget session of Parliament beginning 21st February.
According to the reports, the bill seeks to introduce a gradation in the age of consensual non-penetrative sex (12-14 years and 14-16 years) against the existing age of consent for sex which is 16 years.
It proposes that in case of the age group 12-14, the maximum age gap between partners should be two years.
For the 14-16 group, the maximum gap should be three years.