Maha law on death penalty for rape may be passed soon: Min

Published on Feb 26, 2020 10:44 PM IST
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By, Mumbai

The state may pass a bill giving death penalty for crimes against women such as rape, instead of the current punishment of 10-20 years, along the lines of the Disha law enacted by the Andhra Pradesh government in December 2019, in the ongoing budget session, said home minister Anil Deshmukh at a press conference on Wednesday.

The Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2019 provides for disposal of cases of atrocities against women within 21 days and death penalty for rape, offences against women younger than 16 years and acid attacks. The state had announced the plan after a lecturer in Hinganghat in Wardha was set ablaze by a stalker early this month. Deshmukh had visited Andhra Pradesh, along with officers from home and police departments, last week and met the CM and home minister of that state.

Deshmukh said the government has constituted a committee of two senior women IPS officers Ashwati Dorje and Niyati Thaker Dave to come up with a report on how Maharashtra can adopt it. The report is expected to be submitted by February 29.

The AP government amended section 354 A, B, C of the Indian Penal Code and added additional sections of E, F, and G to allow the death penalty. Section 354 of the IPC deals with assault and criminal offences to outrage the modesty of a woman, Deshmukh said. Under the Disha act, the AP government amended section 376 (1), (2), (3) of the IPC pertaining to punishment for gang rape. They may also include AP’s provisions such as formation of a special investigative team in each district, which will be headed by a woman officer of the designation of deputy superintendent of police, to investigate atrocities against women; maintenance of a separate register at every police station to record offences against women and children; and creating a new mobile phone application for women.

“We may increase the timeframe for verdict [from 21 days] by a few days to four weeks or so,” he said, adding they are looking for a different name for the law. Deshmukh said, “The application created by Andhra Pradesh sends a signal to the local police station if a woman shakes her phone thrice, and thereafter the events are recorded by the police and help is sent based on the location. These recordings can be used as proof in a court of law later.”

Responding to allegations that policemen do not take survivors of rape or sexual offences seriously, Deshmukh said, “All 1,150 police stations in the state will get six cameras each in three months, which will be monitored closely for all proceedings.” He said the state will set up counselling centres in every district, ‘Bharosa Cells’, similar to Pune and the Manodhairya scheme will now extend aid to survivors of petrol and diesel attacks.

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