Rape/ Representational Image
Rape/ Representational Image
File photo

Maharashtra government, on Monday, tabled the Shakti Bills to curb violence against women and children and also to establish a court in every district for speedy trial. As reported by Free Press Journal, one bill provides for strict punishments, including the death penalty and fine up to Rs 10 lakh for crimes such as rape, acid attack, and derogatory material on social media against women and children.

The bill, named ''Shakti'' and modelled on the Disha Act in Andhra Pradesh, provides for completion of investigation and filing of chargesheet within 15 days and the completion of trial in 30 days.

State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tabled the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020, as well as Maharashtra Exclusive Special Court (for certain offences against women and children under Shakti Law) on the first day of the two-day winter session of the state legislature.

The first bill has provision for the amendment in the existing sections of the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for stricter punishment, while the second one is for establishing special courts, at least one in each district in the state, for trial under the Act.

The proposed amendments to the CrPC seek to bring down the investigation period from two months to 15 days, the trial period from two months to 30 days, and appeal period to 45 days from the present six months.

The law will have provision for special public prosecutors and special police teams, which will have at least one woman officer, and will seek to establish institutions to provide services, including medical or psychiatric support and care, psychiatric counselling to victims, and facilitating legal and financial aid and rehabilitation.

"The proposed law will also have provisions to tackle threats and messages on social media platforms. It is an important legislation to ensure the accused are sentenced at the earliest," Deshmukh said.

The bill was prepared after more than 10 months of ground work, and was finalised by a high-level committee of the home department, with Deshmukh visiting Andhra Pradesh to study the Disha Act. Both the bills are expected to be passed on Tuesday in the state legislature on the concluding day of the winter session.

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