In an attempt to tackle crimes against women and children in Maharashtra, the state Cabinet on Wednesday, December 9, approved two bills with provisions of stringent punishments, including death penalty, for crimes such as rape, child abuse and acid attack.
The bills – the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020, and the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020, – will be tabled during the Winter Session of the state Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, which begins on December 14, Scroll.in reported.
"It has given a go-ahead to table the bills in the Winter Session of the legislature. After the approval of the legislature, the Bills will be sent to the Centre for its approval and then to the President," State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said, adding, that the bill will be called the "Shakti Act".
As per the draft bill, those accused of crimes such as rape, child abuse and acid attack will be sentenced to jail term for at least 10 years. "This time period may extend to the remainder of their natural lives or to death sentences in cases that have characteristics of being heinous in nature," the draft said.
The draft bill also plans to amend relevant sections of the IPC, CrPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for the proposed law''s application in Maharashtra.
Acid attack survivors will also be provided with Rs 10 lakh compensation for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction. The amount will be paid as fine by the convict.
The draft bills also aim at bringing down the time frame for completing an investigation from two months to 15 working days and for completion of trials to 30 working days from 60 days.
"Special police teams and separate courts will be created for inquiry and trial for cases of crime against women and children", the draft bills mention.
The bills have also introduced new categories of crime, including threatening and defaming through any means of communication, that will attract up to two years' jail or Rs 1 lakh fine.
Mobile service providers who do not cooperate in inquiries will also face jail and penalty, the draft bill states.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau 2019 report, Maharashtra has the third-highest number of cases of crimes against women, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.