The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved two bills that contain provisions for stern punishments, including death penalty, for crimes such as rape, child abuse and acid attack, The Indian Express reported.
The bills – the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020, and the Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020, – will be tabled during a two-day Winter Session of the state Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, which begin from December 14.
“The draft bills were discussed in the Cabinet today,” Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said. “It has given a go-ahead to table the bills in the Winter Session of the legislature. After the approval of the legislature, the Bills will be sent to the Centre for its approval and then to the President.”
According to the draft bill, those found guilty of crimes such as rape, child abuse and acid attack will be sentenced to imprisonment for at least 10 years. This time period may extend to the remainder of their natural lives or to death sentences in cases that have characteristics of being heinous in nature, the draft said.
Acid attack survivors will also be given Rs 10 lakh for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction. The convict will pay the amount as fine.
The draft bills also propose bringing down the time frame for completing an investigation into the crimes from two months to 15 working days and for completion of trials to 30 working days from 60 days. Special police teams and separate courts will be set up for inquiry and trial for cases of crime against women and children, the draft bills said.
The bills have also defined new categories of crime, including threatening and defaming through any channel of communication, that will attract up to two years’ jail or Rs 1 lakh fine, The Times of India reported. Mobile service providers who do not cooperate in inquiries will also face jail and penalty.
The bills are in line with the Andhra Pradesh’s Disha Act that has a provision of the death penalty for rape instead of 10 to 20 years of imprisonment. Maharashtra has the third-highest number of incidents of crimes against women, just behind Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, according to the National Crime Records Bureau 2019 report. The state accounted for 9.2% of the total crimes against women registered across the country.