Maharashtra cabinet clears draft bill for ‘Shakti Act’

Death penalty for rape, acid attack and child abuse as per new provisions in Maharashtra’s proposed ‘Shakti Act’

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Maharashtra Cabinet has approved draft bills for strengthening the law on prevention of atrocities against women, children while “Shakti Act” which envisages death sentence for rape, acid attack and child abuse and the period of investigation in these heinous crimes has been reduced to 15 working days.

The bills- the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020 and the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020- will be introduced in both houses during the winter session of Maharashtra legislative assembly and council. Threats and defamation of women on social media, filing fake complaints regarding rape, molestation and acid attack, non-cooperation of social media, internet and mobile service providers with the investigators or the public servants, and not following restrictions on publicising the names of rape/molestation/acid attack victims, are the new offences included in the proposed Shakti Act.

The act has also proposed the death penalty for rapes, acid attacks and child abuse, while the punishment period is also enhanced some specific crimes against women and children.

In acid attack cases, a fine is also proposed and the amount will be used for treatment costs of the victims.

To ensure strict implementation of all these proposals in new bills, certain changes in the Criminal Procedure Code is also proposed. According to the proposal, investigation period has been cut down from two months to 15 working days, the trial period slashed from two months to 30 working days, and the appeal period reduced from six months to 45 days.

The Shakti Act also proposed to establish 36 special courts with a special Public prosecutor for cases of heinous crimes against women and children.
It also proposed that a special squad with at least one woman officer in every commissioner or district to investigate crime against women and children.

The law also plans to notify some organisations to help and assist in the rehabilitation of the victims of these cases.

After Andhra Pradesh passed the Disha act, a committee was formed to study the law of Andhra Pradesh and the possibility of Implementation it in Maharashtra.

A committee led by Home minister Anil Deshmukh had visited Andhra Pradesh to study the law. After the committee submitted its report, another committee led by Director Police training college Nashik, IPS Aswathi Dorje was given the task to prepare a draft for the Act.

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