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Opinion

‘Shakti Law’: Maharashtra’s New Sex Crimes Bill Will Have Death Penalty And Heavy Fines

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In an attempt to curb crimes against women and children in Maharashtra, the state cabinet passed a bill called the Shakti Law that contains provisions for severe punishments, including the death penalty, life imprisonment, and heavy fines against perpetrators.

A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said Wednesday that two bills will be introduced in the legislature: the Maharashtra Shakti (Maharashtra Amendment) Criminal Law Act, 2020, and the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Criminal Law of Maharashtra Shakti. 2020: shaping the law against perpetrators of crimes against women and children. The bill will go before the state legislature during the upcoming two-day winter session in Mumbai from December 14-15.

Here is everything you need to know about Shakti law:

1. The Shakti law is modeled after the Andhra Pradesh Disha law, which was introduced last year. A committee was created to study the Disha law and prepare a similar law. Following this, a cabinet subcommittee headed by PWD Minister Ashok Chavan was created to pass the bill and present it to the cabinet for approval.

2. The bill will be submitted for discussion and approval in both houses of the legislature. After obtaining approval from the House, the bill will be sent to the central government for approval and presidential assent.

3. The bill seeks to amend the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (Pocso).

4. Provides to complete the investigation in a case within 15 days and the trial within 30 days. Therefore, there is a stipulated time frame to complete the investigation and trial.

5. Severe punishment, including the death penalty and heavy fines for those responsible, is a key feature of the bill. The authors will be punished with a life sentence of not less than ten years, but it may be extended to the rest of their natural life or with death in cases classified as ‘atrocious’.

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6. Special police teams and separate courts will be established to investigate and prosecute cases against women and children under the new legislation. The creation of up to 36 special courts, each with a special prosecutor, has been proposed.

7. In acid attack cases, the victim will be given a sum of Rs 10 lakh for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction and the amount will be charged as a fine to the accused.

9. Some cases will be tried behind closed doors to record evidence from vulnerable victims and witnesses.

10. The bill also incorporates provisions regarding social media. Threatening and intimidating women on social media will be a crime with a maximum penalty of two years and a fine of 1 lakh rupees. This also includes uploading transformed videos of women or threatening to upload photos, videos that could defame them, discredit them, or violate their privacy.

11. The bill also proposes the creation of a “Registry of Women and Children Offenders” linked to the National Registry of Sex Offenders with details of people convicted of specific crimes of sexual violence against women and children.

Hindustan Times

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