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Maharashtra government proposes death penalty for rape, acid attacks in ‘Shakti Act’

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

In order to strengthen laws against heinous crimes on women and children, Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government on Wednesday unveiled the Shakti Act, which has provisions for stern punishment including death penalty, life sentence, hefty fines for the violators, and also speedy trial.

The draft bill seeks to amend relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for the proposed laws application in Maharashtra.

The bills – Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020 and the Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020 – would be introduced in both houses during the winter session of the states legislative assembly and council.

The new offences proposed in the Shakti Act include – threats and defamation of women on social media, filing fake complaints regarding rape, molestation and acid attack, non-cooperation of social media, internet and mobile service providers with the investigators or the public servants, and not following restrictions on publicizing the names of rape/molestation/acid attack victims.

The act also proposes the death penalty for rapes, acid attacks, and child abuse, while the punishment period for some specific crimes against women and children have also been elongated.

Acid attack survivors would be provided with Rs 10 lakh compensation for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction. The amount would be paid as a fine by the convict.

The draft bills also aim at bringing down the time frame for completing an investigation from two months to 15 working days and for completion of trials to 30 working days from 60 days.

According to a statement released by the CMO, as many as 36 special courts, each having a public prosecutor, have been proposed to be set up to deal with cases registered under the Shakti Act. 

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