On Wednesday, the Maharashtra Cabinet approved the introduction of two draft bills pertaining to the prevention of incidents of violence and atrocities against women and children in the state.
The bills were approved in a State Cabinet meeting presided by the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Reportedly, the bill to be introduced in the assembly session is scheduled in the two-day winter session of the legislature to be held in Mumbai from December 14.
The draft bills seek to amend relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for the proposed law’s application in the state.
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 “Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020” has been drafted along the lines of the Andhra Pradesh Disha Act Criminal Law (AP Amendment) Act, 2019. Once passed by the state legislature it will be called the “Shakti Act”.
The second draft bill, which is meant for the implementation of the Shakti legislation, has been named as “Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Criminal Law, 2020.” The Cabinet had discussed the Shakti Act and cleared the draft bill to amend sections of the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
“Once the State Legislature approves the two drafts, we will send it to the Centre for Presidential assent,” stated the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. “This draft talks about death punishment for offenders of heinous crimes against Women and Children and for completion of the probe in a case within 15 days and trial within 30 days,” he added.
Deshmukh further cited that the draft bills stipulate for setting up special police teams and separate courts for investigation and trial of cases against women and children.
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 that have characteristics of being heinous in nature, he said.
Under the proposed legislation, a sum of Rs 10 lakh will be given to an acid attack victim for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction which will be collected as a fine from the convict.
As many as 36 special courts, each having a special public prosecutor, have been proposed to be set up to deal with cases registered under the Shakti Act, a statement from the Maharashtra cabinet read.
According to the Shakti Act, threatening and intimidating women on social media, making false complaints of rape, molestation and acid attack, non-cooperation in the investigation, disclosure of victims’ identity in case of molestation and acid attack will also be considered crime.
Yashomati Thakur, Women and Child Development Minister said “It’s a historic decision. This law will help us protect women and children of our State.”