Eminent women write to Maharashtra CM; oppose Shakti Bill

Mumbai: Over 60 women advocates, activists, academicians and 27 organisations have addressed a memorandum to the state Chief Minister raising objections to the Maharashtra Shakti Bill 2020.

The memorandum signed by the likes of senior lawyer Indira Jaising has called the proposed law, designed on the lines of Andhra Pradesh’s Disha Act, 2019, as “draconian” and “anti-women”.

It has raised red flags on the punishment of death penalty prescribed in the Bill for rape and gangrape and penetrative sexual assault on children and called it “counter-productive”. “It is the certainty of investigation, trial and punishment that works as a deterrent rather than the severity of punishment,” it says and added that numerous studies have questioned the potency of the death penalty as a deterrant in preventing crimes. It could result in lower convictions and reporting rates, the letter warned as many times the rapist is a known person. A death penalty would multiply the trauma and conflict faced by victims, both child and adult, it reasoned and urged that death penalty as a punishment be withdrawn.

Referring to the punishment for filing false cases that is envisioned in the Bill, it said that it could have the effect of lowering the reporting of cases and has immense possibility that counter cases will be filed against women.

The Bill suggests a time-frame of 15 days for investigation and one month for trial. The signatories have said this could result in botched-up investigations and unfair trials. The police and courts do not have the infrastructure to comply with this time-frame, it pointed out.

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