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Maharashtra Cabinet clears draft bill proposed to curb heinous crimes against women and children

The minister also stated the bill will come up for discussion and approval in both houses of the legislature. A two-day winter session of the legislature begins in Mumbai from December 14.

Maharashtra Cabinet clears draft bill proposed to curb heinous crimes against women and children
SHARES

The Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday, December 9, has approved a draft bill that has provisions for stern punishment, including the death penalty, life sentence, and hefty fines, for the perpetrators, and also a speedy trial.

The proposed bill crafted on the lines of Disha Act by the Andhra Pradesh government will be called as Shakti Act, 2020. It has been introduced to curb heinous crimes against women and children in the state.

The draft bill seeks 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 the state.

After nine months of deliberation, the Home Department at the cabinet meeting, which was held in Mumbai, presented this draft bill. However, it was approved and will be tabled in the state legislature during its upcoming winter session, state home minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters after the meeting. It provides for completing probe in a case within 15 days and trial within 30 days, Deshmukh said.

The minister also stated the bill will come up for discussion and approval in both houses of the legislature. A two-day winter session of the legislature begins in Mumbai from December 14.

After getting the house nod, the bill will be sent to the Central government for approval and Presidential assent, said Deshmukh.

A statement from the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said the bill will be tabled in the legislature in two parts - the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020 and the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020.

The Bill provides for completing investigation and trial within a stipulated time-frame and stringent punishment, including the death penalty and heavy fines, for the culprits. Special police teams and separate courts will be set up for investigation and trial of cases against women and children, according to the draft bill.

The perpetrators, if found guilty, will be punished with imprisonment for life for not less than ten years but may extend to the remainder of natural life or with death in cases which have characteristics of being heinous in nature, it said.

The main provisions of the Shakti Act

  • Provision of life imprisonment or death penalty in case of rape by an acquaintance
  • Provision of the death penalty in cases of atrocities against women
  • In case of atrocities against girls below the age of 16 years, life imprisonment
  • In case of gang rape, provision of 20 years rigorous imprisonment or life imprisonment up to death, ₹10 lakh fine or death penalty
  • ₹10 lakh fine and life imprisonment for the gang-rape of a girl below 16 years of age
  • Strict life imprisonment and a fine of ₹10 lakh for harassing or molesting girls under 12 years of age
  • Criminals who repeatedly abuse women will be sentenced to life imprisonment
  • All offenses will be non-bailable
  • A government servant who does not cooperate with the investigation in a rape case will be imprisoned for up to two years
  • Acid attack is punishable by a minimum of 10 years or life imprisonment and a fine of ₹10 lakh
  • Imprisonment for 10 to 14 years for attempting to throw acid
  • Acid attack is a non-bailable offence
  • At least two years imprisonment and a fine of ₹2 lakh for harassing a woman in any manner
  • Punishment for commenting on women through social media, mail, message, electronic media, threatening, spreading misinformation but also punishment.
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