Andhra clears bill seeking death penalty for rapists
The first bill seeks to award death penalty for rapists and the second to take stringent action for atrocities against women by setting up special courts to deal with such offences.Updated: Dec 14, 2019 02:46 IST
The Andhra Pradesh assembly on Friday passed two bills to amend the Indian Penal Code to enable expeditious investigation and trial of offences against women and children.
The first bill seeks to award death penalty for rapists and the second to take stringent action for atrocities against women by setting up special courts to deal with such offences.
The Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Andhra Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2019, prescribes death penalty for rapes in which there is conclusive evidence. The bill envisages an amendment of Section 376 (Punishment for rape) of the IPC. This apart, the Bill also reduces the judgment period to 21 working days, with seven days for investigation and 14 for trial.
The Bill prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children.
During the discussion on the bill, Andhra chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said as the criminal law was part of the concurrent list of State and Centre, the new bill would be sent to the Centre for Presidential assent.
He said the bill would stand as an answer to the system which needs to expedite cases where there is conclusive evidence.
He said the Nirbhaya case, the December 2012 rape and murder case, was a classic example of the culprits not getting the punishment. This case along with the public response to the recent killing of the veterinary doctor in Hyderabad, were considered before drafting the Bills, he said.
In cases of harassment of women through social or digital media, the bill envisages two years’ imprisonment for the first conviction and four years for second and subsequent convictions.
According to the second bill, the state will set up exclusive special courts in all the 13 districts to deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, social media harassment of women, sexual harassment and all cases under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
The state will also employ special public prosecutors and special police force dedicated for such crimes only. A women and children offenders registry will be on public domain and available to law enforcement agencies.
According to the new bills, three new sections 354E, 354F and 354G will be added to the IPC that define harassment of women, sexual assault on children and aggravated sexual assault on children respectively.
Introducing the bills in the Assembly, state home minister Mekathoti Sucharitha said there was an imperative need to amend laws to bring speedy justice for all offences against women and children.
Telugu Desam Party president, and opposition leader, N Chandrababu Naidu said his party would wholeheartedly extend support to the new Bill. He, however, suggested that the state government take all precautions to ensure that it did not face legal hurdles.
“It is better the government take suggestions from the Supreme Court chief justice before preparing the draft rules. Since the bill requires the approval of the Centre, the state should not give scope for any loopholes,” he said, adding that the government should also show the same interest in implementing the act.
Former Central Information Commissioner and retired professor of NALSAR University of law Sridhar Acharyulu Madabhushi has expressed doubts over the implementation of the two bills if approved by the President. “First, the government should appoint dedicated judicial officers to head the designated special courts with supporting staff. Secondly, it should also designate sufficient number of police personnel to deal with such cases. Thirdly, the government should also make adequate financial allocation for these courts and police teams for speedy investigation and trial,” he said.
Madabhushi also questioned if it was possible to complete the investigation, trial and judgment within 21 days. “There is a possibility that the upper courts might strike off the judgments of the special courts on the ground that the accused were not given sufficient time to argue. No doubt justice delayed is justice denied. But it is also true that justice hurried is justice buried,” he pointed out.