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Maha Passes Draft 'Shakti Act' to Curb Crimes against Women; Death Penalty, Speedy Trial Among Features

Representative image.

Representative image.

The draft bill has provisions for death penalty, life sentence, and hefty fines, for perpetrators, and also speedy trial. It also seeks to amend relevant sections of the IPC, CrPC and POCSO Act.

In a bid to curb heinous crimes against women and children in Maharashtra, the state cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft bill that has provisions for stern punishment, including the death penalty, life sentence, and hefty fines, for the perpetrators, and also speedy trial. The draft bill seeks to amend relevant sections of the IPC, CrPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for the proposed law's application in the state.

The cabinet approved the draft bill at a meeting here and it will be tabled in the state legislature during its upcoming winter session, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters after the meeting. A two-day winter session of the legislature begins in Mumbai from December 14.

He said the bill, to be called the "Shakti Act", will come up for discussion and approval in both houses of the legislature. It provides for completing probe in a case within 15 days and trial within 30 days, Deshmukh said.

After getting the house nod, the bill will be sent to the Central government for approval and Presidential assent, Deshmukh said. The provisions of the new law aim to control heinous sexual offences against women and children, the minister said.

It provides for completing investigation and trial within a stipulated time-frame and stringent punishment, including the death penalty and heavy fines, for the culprits, Deshmukh said. Special police teams and separate courts will be set up for investigation and trial of cases against women and children, according to the draft bill.

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 which have characteristics of being heinous in nature, it 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 and the amount will be collected as fine from the convict.

Investigation shall be completed within a period of 15 working days from the date of registration of an offence.Reasons for not doing so shall be recorded in writing by the investigating officer concerned and these may include inability to identify the perpetrator, it said.

Then the probe period will be extended up to seven working days. After a charge-sheet is filed, the trial shall be conducted on a day-to-day basis and completed within a period of 30 working days, according to the draft bill. Some cases will be tried in-camera for recording of evidence of victims and witnesses who are vulnerable, it said.