AP assembly passes bill to set-up exclusive courts to try offences against women, children
The Andhra Pradesh state assembly on Thursday passed a new legislation seeking to constitute exclusive special courts for the speedy trial of specified offences against women and children.
The bill - the ‘Andhra Pradesh Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill, 2020,’ was adopted by voice vote without any discussion amidst protests from the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Though the state government described it a revised legislation of AP Disha Act of 2019, which was withdrawn on Wednesday, it does not talk about an amendment to AP Criminal Law for completion of an investigation into alleged rape and murder cases, the conduct of trial and awarding of sentences to the accused within 21 days.
The revised bill talks about the establishment of exclusive special courts for the speedy trial of “specified offences against women and children.” The special court shall be presided over by a judge to be nominated by the government with the concurrence of the state high court.
State home minister M Sucharita told the assembly that though there were special courts for trial of offences against women under Section 376 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), they were also trying other cases resulting in additional burden on these courts and delay in disposal of offences against women.
“Therefore, the government has felt it necessary to constitute exclusive special courts for speedy trial of specified offences against women and children under various sections of the IPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, for faster and quick disposal of cases,” she said.
She said the previous legislation passed by the state assembly on December 13, 2019, and by the legislative council on December 16, 2019, were sent to the Union home ministry, but the latter returned the bill making certain suggestions. Hence, the revised bill, she said.
According to the new bill, the judge of the exclusive special court shall be a member of state higher judicial service in the capacity of a sessions judge or additional sessions judge. These special courts may take cognizance of a specified offence against women and children, notwithstanding anything contained in the Criminal Procedure Code.
The bill said the provisions of the CrPC as amended from time to time shall apply to the proceedings before an exclusive special court. The government may appoint a special public prosecutor to argue cases under these special courts.
The bill also envisages constitution of a special police team at the district level to be headed by a deputy superintendent of police for the investigation of specified offence.