Shakti bill delayed further as govt seeks time for deliberation
The Shakti bill which has the provisions of stricter punishment for heinous crimes like rape, acid attack, social media abuse against women and children is likely to be delayed again at least by four months. The state government has proposed the extension to the joint select committee (JSC) appointed to deliberate on the bill, till the monsoon session to be held in July.
The bill, named as Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020, along with Maharashtra Exclusive Special Court (for certain offences against women and children under Shakti Law), was sent to the JSC of 21 legislators in December. Opposition benches and some women rights group had opposed the bill, after which, the state government decided to send it to the JSC for further deliberation.
“The committee held several meetings, met activist, lawyers in Nagpur, Pune and Aurangbad, and has received hundreds of suggestions and objections. The JSC is yet to complete its work and finalise the revised draft of the bill. The committee needs more time, hence it was decided unanimously to seek more time for the final draft to table in the houses,” said Bharti Lavhekar, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and member of the JSC.
Lavhekar said the JSC is looking at all the aspects including suggestions from some male organisations, and delay in the assent by the president to Andhra Pradesh’s Disha Act on which Maharashtra’s Shakti bill is modelled. “We want to ensure that the bill passed in the legislature is full proof and should be passed with due deliberation,” she said.
Home minister Anil Deshmukh has proposed the extension to the JSC till the last day of the monsoon session expected to be held in July. The extension motion will be moved in both houses on Monday.
By amending the sections in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso), Shakti bill has hiked the punishment to the death penalty and fine up to ₹10 lakh for the heinous crimes against women and children. The bill has also made it mandatory to complete the investigation and filing of charge sheet in 15 days and completion of the trial in 30 days after filing of the charge sheet.
According to leaders from the ruling parties the state government also wanted to avoid discussion on the crimes against women in the backdrop of the controversial cases raked up against two of their ministers recently. Social justice minister Dhananjay Munde and former forest minister Sanjay Rathod faced allegations of involvement in two separate cases related to women. Rathod had to resign from the post after BJP alleged his involvement in the suicide case of a Pune woman.