Crimes against women and children: State clears Bill proposing death penalty for rape

The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the draft of a Bill prepared on the lines of the Disha Act passed by the Andhra Pradesh government to curb crimes against women and children.

The draft of the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020, proposes death penalty in cases of rape, acid attack, and serious crimes against children.

The State Cabinet also cleared the draft of another Bill: the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law 2020. The drafts are likely to be tabled in the winter session of the legislature scheduled to be held on December 14 and 15.

The drafts have included new crimes within their ambit. They include threatening and defaming women on social media, false complaint regarding rape, acid attack, and outraging the modesty of women. Non-cooperation in investigation by social media sites and companies providing mobile and internet services, and elected representatives will be considered a crime.

The restrictions on publishing the names of rape victims are now applied to victims of acid attacks as well as those in cases of outraging modesty.

The Shakti Act proposes death penalty in cases of rape, acid attack, and serious crimes against children. While the period of imprisonment will be increased, a fine has been proposed in cases of acid attacks which will be given to the victims for medical treatment, including plastic surgery.

The Bills have also proposed changes in the criminal procedure. The detection period has been reduced to 15 office days from the existing two months, while the court period has been brought down to 30 office days from two months. The appeal period has also been reduced to 45 days from six months.

The drafts also propose a new judicial system under which 36 special courts will be set up and a special public prosecutor will be made available to each court. Each district police superintendent or commissionerate will have one special squad to probe crimes against women and children which will mandatorily have one female officer. NGOs will also be notified to extend help to victims.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had visited Hyderabad earlier this year to study the Disha Act. Later, a committee headed by Ashwathi Dorje, director, Maharashtra Police Academy, was formed to prepare the draft of the Bill for Maharashtra. A Cabinet sub-committee headed by Public Works Department Minister Ashok Chavan was set up in March to finalise the drafts of the Bills.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 4:00:16 AM |

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