The Maharashtra cabinet approved the Shakti Act on Wednesday to prevent against women and children in the state and to punish the guilty as soon as possible in the meeting presided by the Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. The cabinet will table the bill in the upcoming assembly session, that is scheduled to begin here on December 14.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters after the meeting that the cabinet approved the draft of the bill in a meeting here and it will be introduced in the state legislature during the upcoming winter session.
He said that the bill would come up for discussion and approval in both houses of the Legislature. It will be called ‘Shakti Act’ if it takes the form of law. Deshmukh said that there is a provision for completing the investigation in a case within 15 days and hearing within 30 days.
After the bill is approved in the Legislative Assembly, it will be sent to the Central Government for approval and signature of the President, after which it will become law.
A statement issued from the Chief Minister’s Office said that this bill will be introduced in the House in two parts – Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020 and Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020.
The “Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020” has been drafted along the lines of the Andhra Pradesh Disha Act Criminal Law (AP Amendment) Act, 2019.
There is a provision of capital punishment for very serious and hate crime. A time limit of 15 days has been kept for investigating such a very serious crime. A provision has been made to extend it for seven days for an investigation citing the eligible cause.
After the charge sheet is filed in such hate crimes, the court hearing will be done daily and the hearing will be completed in 30 days. The file will be completed/closed within 45 days of the sentencing of the court, for which the earlier period was 6 months.
Under the Shakti Act, it has been proposed that in every district there will be special courts, special police teams. A special institution will be set up for the convenience of the victimized woman and children. The section will be non-bailable in cases of an acid attack, in which the provision of punishment shall not be less than 10 years.
Apart from this, there will be a provision for capital punishment and there will be a provision for financial compensation to the victim. The fine will be up to Rs 100 lakh, which will be for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction of the victim. Offences like gang rape and rape have also been added to this proposal, in which there is a provision of punishment of 12 years in the case of rape with a woman below 16 years.
There is a provision of a 2-year sentence for misbehaviour or exploitation of a woman by any means of communication including social media and a fine of one lakh rupees. Even if the government employee does not cooperate in the investigation, then there is a provision for a sentence of 6 months, which can be extended up to 2 years and a fine can also be imposed.
Section 354 of the IPC will add section ‘E’, under which a case will be registered in cases of harassment, objectionable comments and threats by social media, telephone or another digital medium.
After imposing the cabinet’s seal on the Shakti Act, the Minister of Women and Child Development Yashomati Thakur said that Maha Vikas Aghadi not only speaks but also acts on its words. She further called this law a historic law for women and said this law will ensure that atrocities on women will be stopped and the guilty will not be left free.