Finally some real “Shakti”!
Maharashtra govt. unveils the “Shakti Act”: proposes tough provisions for crime against women & children
In an attempt to curb crimes against women and children, the Maharashtra government’s cabinet has finally unveiled the Shakti Act, the draft Bill proposes provisions for stern punishment, which would include death penalty for heinous crimes, hefty fines and speedy trials. The Bill attempts 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.
CM Uddhav Thackeray announced after the meeting of the state cabinet, “The Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020 will be introduced in the legislature along with special court and machinery for its implementation.” Home Minister Anil Deshmukh stated that the draft Bill was approved by the state cabinet and will be tabled at the state legislature during its winter session. “The cabinet has cleared the draft bill to amend sections of Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. It will be tabled in the state legislature in the winter session next week. Thereafter, it will be sent to the Centre and shall be enforced after it receives Presidential assent.” Deshmukh added.
Crimes such as rape, child abuse and acid attacks will be sentenced to no less than 10 years imprisonment which could lead up to the entirety of the perpetrator’s life or even death penalty if the case is characterised heinous in nature. Additionally, it also aims at bringing down the time frame for completing an investigation to 15 working days and for completion of trials to 30 working days; time for appeal has been brought down from 6 months to 45 days. Furthermore, some cases will be tried in-camera for the recording of evidence of victims and witnesses who are vulnerable.
Acid attack survivors will be given at least Rs. 10 lac as compensation for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction and the amount will be given by the convict.
This Act is modelled on the lines of Disha Act of Andhra Pradesh, which was brought in 2019 after a veterinarian was raped and murdered in Hyderabad, which triggered widespread public outrage.
This is a massive step towards ensuring the protection of women and children who are relatively more vulnerable to such crimes. Thirty six 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 said. The passing of this Bill will hopefully bring down the rate of such crimes in the state.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed in 2019 that Maharashtra recorded the maximum number of crimes committed after Uttar Pradesh in 2019. Astonishingly, the state has also recorded a maximum number of murders with sexual assault, including rapes and gangrapes in the country, leaving behind states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. “While introducing a stringent law, the government and every political party should take an initiative to spread awareness and conduct gender equality programmes on top priority, like staging skits or street plays between speeches at political events,” said social activist Dr Kunda PM back in February this year.