Maharashtra Cabinet nod to draft Bills with stern punishment for rape, acid attack

The Bills will be tabled during the two-day Winter Session of the legislature that commences on Monday.

The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft Shakti criminal law Bills, which contains provisions of stern punishment, including death penalty, for serious crimes such as rape, acid attack and child abuse.

The Bills – Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020 and the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020 – will be tabled during the two-day Winter Session of the legislature that commences on Monday.

Last December, the Maharashtra government had announced that it is bringing a law on the lines of the Andhra Pradesh’s Disha Act with a provision of death penalty for rape instead of the current punishment of 10 to 20 years in jail.

The draft Bills provide for completing investigation and trial within a stipulated time frame. Also, special police teams and separate courts will be set up for investigation and trial of cases against women and children, it stated.

The perpetrators, if found guilty, will be imprisoned for not less than 10 years. This may extend to the remainder of their natural lives or with death sentences in cases that have characteristics of being heinous in nature, the draft added.

Further, sum of Rs 10 lakh will be given to an acid attack victim for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction. The amount will be collected as fine from the convict.

The government has also proposed amendments in the Criminal Procedure Code to ensure speedy investigation and trial. It has proposed to bring down the investigation period to 15 working days from two months and trial period to 30 working days from two months. The appeal period has been proposed to be reduced to 45 days from six months.

“The draft Bills were discussed in the Cabinet today. 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,” said Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said after the Cabinet meeting.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau report for 2019, Maharashtra has reported the third highest number of crimes against women, only behind Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. It accounted for 9.2 per cent of the total crimes against women registered across the country.

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