The Cabinet on Thursday approved amendments in a Bill under which any sexual activity, even consensual, with a person below the age of 18 would be considered an offence.
In the earlier version of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, consensual sexual activity with children between the age groups 16 to 18 was not considered a crime.
The Ministry recommended these amendments to its original draft following the recommendation of the parliamentary Standing Committee in its report in December 2011.
The parliamentary committee had expressed the view that once the age of the child had been specified as up to 18 years in the Bill, the element of consent should be treated as irrelevant up to this age and suggested that provisions related to age of consent should be deleted.
The previous Bill had provided that if sexual assault is committed against a child between 16 to 18 years of age, it would be considered if it was with the consent of the child or whether there had been a use of violence, force, threat to use force, intoxicants or other means.
Another amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill was approved on Thursday after which the responsibility to create awareness about the law would be vested in both the central and state governments, officials said.
Officials said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development had proposed several amendments to its 'The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 which the Cabinet referred to a Group of Ministers.