Upper house

Shakti bill debated in review committee, several reservations expressed

The amendments proposed by the draft “Shakti Bill” – likely to be tabled during the winter session of the state legislature – were debated by the review committee made up of senior officials of the state legislature. Maharashtra police last month.

The proposal is inspired by the Disha law of Andhra Pradesh to effectively combat crime against women.

Among the proposed provisions is the death penalty in all cases of rape. Currently, only gang rape, rape of a minor or a previous conviction in a rape case invites the death penalty. Apart from that, the bill proposes that the indictment be filed in 15 days, the trial is expected to resume in 30 days and end in 45 days.

The bill also proposes a separate offense punishable by five years for “offensive communication” by telephone, email, social media platforms or any other electronic or digital means.

During the meeting held in the presence of the Minister of the Interior of the State Dilip Walse Patil, several officers expressed reservations on certain provisions, we learned.

A senior Mumbai police officer pointed out that there were hundreds of cases of sexual offenses in which trials had not been completed for two to three years. The officer raised questions about the wisdom of reducing the trial period to 30 days when there were already so many cases pending, a source said.

Another official expressed reservations about the 15-day deadline for the chargesheet. The officer pointed out that while prompt filing of an indictment is a good thing, the provision could expedite the investigator. The officer can simply file the indictment within 15 days without worrying about gathering strong evidence, which could be counterproductive to the conviction.

“In some sensitive cases, this could be done because several teams are formed to share the workload, as in the Sakinaka rape case. However, in any case, it is not possible to involve so many teams, ”said a source quoting an official at the meeting.

Another provision that was debated was that calling for the death penalty in all cases of rape. Some police officers pointed out that retaining the death penalty in all cases could put the victim in danger, as an accused would not want to leave any evidence. Another officer said that in cases of sexual violence, the perpetrator is a relative or a known person.

“Faced with a death penalty for a family member or loved one, the victim may not receive support from their family to file a complaint,” another official said at the meeting.

The bill was prepared by the joint committee which has 21 members from all parties – 14 members of the lower house and seven members of the upper house. The revising committee will now debate the proposed provisions, following which the bill will be tabled in the Assembly.

One official said: “A bill can be introduced to show that something is being done with cosmetic changes to the law or provisions that could have real meaning in tackling crimes against women. . We are trying to make sure that the proposed changes contribute to the fight against sexual offenses in the long term. “

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