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President accords assent to ordinance

 NEW DELHI, Feb 3 – Two days after it was cleared by the Union Cabinet, an ordinance on sexual violence against women under which rape that leads to death of the victim can now attract death penalty was today promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee, reports PTI.

“The President of India has accorded his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 today,” an official release said. A Home Ministry spokesperson also said the ordinance was approved by the President.

The Union Cabinet on Friday recommended the draft of the ordinance to the President for his assent in a bid to fast-track stringent amendments to the criminal laws to check crime against women. The ordinance came less than three weeks before the start of the Budget Session of Parliament.

The ordinance, based on the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma Committee and going beyond, also proposes to replace the word ‘rape’ with ‘sexual assault’ to expand the definition of all types of sexual crimes against women.

The ordinance has evoked a mixed response with opposition BJP welcoming it but CPI(M) and several women’s groups opposing it, attacking the government for doing “injustice” to Verma Committee recommendations.

Being brought against the backdrop of the gangrape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi in December that shook the country, the ordinance entails changes in the criminal law by amending IPC, CrPC and the Evidence Act.

It also proposes enhanced punishment for other crimes against women like stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, indecent gestures like words and inappropriate touch and brings into its ambit ‘marital rape’.

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