‘Shakti act’: Maharashtra’s new bill on sexual crimes to have death penalty, hefty fines

Here’s everything you need to know about the Shakti act
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar(PTI)
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar(PTI)
Updated on Dec 12, 2020 02:56 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com| Edited by Mallika Soni

In a bid to curb crimes against women and children in Maharashtra, the state cabinet has approved a draft bill called the Shakti act that has provisions for stern punishment, including the death penalty, life sentence, and hefty fines against perpetrators.

A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said on Wednesday that two bills will be tabled in the legislature - the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020, and the Special Court & Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020 - to give shape to the law against perpetrators of crime against women and children. The draft bill will be tabled in the state legislature during the upcoming two-day winter session in Mumbai on December 14-15.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Shakti act:

1. The Shakti act is modelled on the lines of Andhra Pradesh’s Disha act, which was brought last year. A committee was set up to study the Disha act and prepare a similar law. After this, a cabinet sub-committee headed by PWD minister Ashok Chavan was set up to approve the draft act and put it before the cabinet for clearance.

2. The draft bill will come up for discussion and approval in both houses of the legislature. After getting the house nod, the bill will be sent to the central government for approval and presidential assent.

3. The draft bill seeks to amend relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.

4. It provides for completing probe in a case within 15 days and trial within 30 days. Therefore, there is a stipulated time frame for completing the investigation and trial.

5. Stringent punishment, including the death penalty and heavy fines on the perpetrators is a key feature of the draft bill. The perpetrators will be punished with imprisonment for life for not less than ten years but may extend to the remainder of natural life or with death in cases characterised as ‘heinous’.

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6. Special police teams and separate courts will be set up for investigation and trial of cases against women and children under the new legislation. As many as 36 special courts, each having a special public prosecutor have been proposed to be set up.

7. In cases involving acid attacks, a sum of 10 lakh will be given to the victim for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction and the amount will be collected as fine from the accused.

9. Some cases will be tried in-camera for the recording of evidence of victims and witnesses who are vulnerable.

10. The draft bill also incorporates provisions with respect to social media. Threatening and intimidating women on social media will be an offence with a maximum punishment of two years and a 1 lakh fine. This also includes uploading morphed videos of women or threatening them with uploading of photos, videos which could defame, cause disrepute to them or violate their privacy.

11. The bill also proposes setting up of a “Women and Children Offenders Registry” linked to the National Registry of Sexual Offenders with details of persons convicted of specified offences of sexual violence against women and children.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022