The Power Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, based on the ‘Disha Act’ of Andhra Pradesh, provides for death penalty or life imprisonment in cases of heinous crimes like rape, gang rape of women and children. Provision has been given to complete the investigation of such offenses within 30 days from the date of incident.
Mumbai: The Maharashtra Legislative Council on Friday unanimously passed the Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, which provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty, for crimes against women and children.
The state assembly on Thursday approved the bill based on the ‘Disha Act’ of Andhra Pradesh. Now it will be sent for the approval of the President.
The Bill provides for the completion of investigation of such cases of crime within 30 days from the date of occurrence and makes it mandatory for social media platforms and Internet service providers to share information, if required by the investigating officers.
State Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil introduced it in the Upper House of the Assembly. He said, ‘I will not claim that this is a strong law, but it will expedite the investigation and will act as a deterrent. The law not only protects women, but also provides for a fine of Rs 3 lakh if anyone tries to misuse it and tarnishes the image of a person (by filing a false complaint).
On the provision of death penalty for rape, he said, “Not every guilty person will get the death penalty. The decision will depend on the seriousness of the offence. If needed, 30 days time can be given to complete the investigation.
Leader of Opposition in the Council Praveen Darekar said, “Forensic laboratories and cyber cells are facing shortage of manpower, infrastructure and funding. The state government should make necessary provisions for them.
“I welcome the provision of setting up special courts at the district level to investigate such crimes. But they should get adequate infrastructure, new judges and staff.
Walse Patil said that the state government has already decided that internship will be offered to students who have completed cyber and forensic security courses. “This will address the shortage of staff in cyber security cells and forensic laboratories,” the minister said.
Neelam Gore, the presiding speaker of the Legislative Council, said, ‘I congratulate all those who helped in the formulation of the Power Act. I urge Leader of the Opposition Darekar to ensure that the Bill is signed at the earliest so that the Act can come into force. Darekar is a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to the Indian Express, the bill provides for death penalty or life imprisonment in cases of heinous crimes such as rape, gang rape of girls below the age of 16 years. Apart from this, there is a provision of punishment for men, women and transgenders in cases of outraging the dignity of women, intimidating women by any means.
Other provisions include imprisonment of up to three months and a fine of Rs 25 lakh or both against social media platforms, internet or mobile telephone data providers for failure to share data for police investigation.
There is a provision of imprisonment of not less than three years and a fine of one lakh rupees for registering false cases or providing false information to any person.
Acid attack cases are punishable with imprisonment of not less than 15 years which may extend to the rest of the life of a convict, and he will have to pay a fine to the victim. Also, the cost of plastic surgery and facial reconstruction for the victim will be taken from the monetary fine levied on the accused.
According to the report, another bill, the Maharashtra Exclusive Special Court (for certain offenses against women and children under the Power Act) will be referred to a joint select committee of the state legislature.
Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil said, “The committee will deliberate to suggest amendments and we will complete it by the end of the next session.”
The bill will have provisions for dedicated courts, special public prosecutors and special police teams, with at least one woman officer. The Bill seeks to establish institutions for providing services including medical or psychiatric aid and care, psychiatric counseling, legal and financial assistance and rehabilitation facilities to victims.
(with input from news agency language)
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