Home Law Andhra Pradesh government passes 'Disha Bill': Trials of rapists and acid attackers to conclude within 21 days, death penalty included

Andhra Pradesh government passes ‘Disha Bill’: Trials of rapists and acid attackers to conclude within 21 days, death penalty included

The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet also gave a go-ahead to the Andhra Pradesh Special Court for Specified Offences against Women and Children Act 2019, under which special courts would be established in each district of the state to put a curb on crimes against women and children.

In a move that could act as a deterrent against committing sexual crimes against children and women, the Andhra Pradesh assembly passed Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2019 that awards death sentences to convicts in rape cases within 21 days.

According to the reports, the bill which is also known as ‘The Disha Bill’ provides for awarding death sentence to criminals found guilty of rape and gang rape by expediting trials in such cases within 21 days. The legislation also includes violent crimes against women, like acid attacks.

It is notable here that the veterinarian who was recently raped and murdered in Hyderabad was named as ‘Disha’ in police reports since Indian law forbids disclosing the victim’s real identity.

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On Wednesday, the Andhra Pradesh cabinet had approved two bills for the strengthening of the provisions relating to crimes against women and children.

The AP Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2019 seeks to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure for ‘heinous offences of rape’. According to new provisions, the investigation should be concluded within seven working days if there is ‘adequate conclusive evidence’. The new law also states trial must be completed within 14 working days, thus reducing the total judgment time to 21 working days.

The passing of the bill comes in the wake of the gruesome rape and murder of a woman veterinarian in Telangana’s Cyberabad late last month.

The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet also gave a go-ahead to the Andhra Pradesh Special Court for Specified Offences against Women and Children Act 2019, under which special courts would be established in each district of the state to put a curb on crimes against women and children.

Last month, a 27-year-old doctor was brutally raped, killed and her body was set ablaze by four accused near a toll in Hyderabad. A few days later, the four accused arrested in the case were killed in an encounter with the police. The accused had tried to flee and attacked the police who were then recreating the crime scene in the early hours.

Reportedly, these special courts will take up cases of rape, gang rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, sexual harassment, and cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The cabinet has also approved the introduction of section 354E and 354F in the Indian Penal Code to deal with cases of online abuse and child sexual abuse, respectively. Those convicted in such cases would face punishment between 10 and 14 years, while in cases with severe crimes, the punishment would go up to life imprisonment.

Further, there are provisions in the bill to deal with harassment of women over email, social media or any other digital mode. The bill proposes a punishment of jail sentence up to 2 years for the first conviction and the subsequent convictions can lead to imprisonment up to 4 years.

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