Women legislators in the Maharashtra legislature on Wednesday suggested that the state government can name the proposed act to deal with specified offences against women as Shakti or Damini or Nirbhaya. The government has proposed to table the bill on the lines of Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2019 (now, Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law Amendment Act 2019) at awarding capital punishment to the guilty in specified offences against women and to expedite trial in such cases within 21 days of committing the crime.
At the maiden meeting convened by the Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, the women legislators from ruling and opposition parties however, urged the government not to table the bill in haste but only after seeking proper study of the existing acts and also after getting suggestions from them and various women organisations.
The home department in its presentation told the women legislators that it will propose amendments to the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code and prepare the new legislation which will need the Presidential assent. The government proposes to set up 45 special courts in all districts for speedy trial of crime against women including rape, molestation, kidnapping, harassment and others.
Some legislators suggested that the special cell devoted for the registration of crime, counselling should be set up at a police station in all districts. This will be on the lines of Bharosa Cell established in Pune and Nagpur.
Shiv Sena leader and deputy chairperson of the Maharashtra Legislative Council Neelam Gorhe told FPJ,'' The Mahila Dakshata Samiti at the police stations should be restructured and the police should be made accountable. The minutes of the meeting be circulated to the members of such committees. The proposed Act can be used as a tool for the gender sensitisation and justice to change the mindset of the police personnel. There is also need to accelerate law enforcement machinery for getting an early justice to the victim.''
Minister of Schools Education Varsha Gaikwad suggested that the girls need to be trained in self-defence in the schools. NCP legislator Vidya Chavan wanted the police department to refer the case in the special courts in a stipulated time frame.
On the other hand, BJP legislator Manda Mhatre argued that the government should remove lacunae in the functioning of the police department and the police personnel should be told to register and investigate the cases against women on a priority basis.
Furthermore, women legislators urged the minister to take such meeting of the male legislators and brief about the proposed act.