Maha council passes bill with stringent punishment for crimes against women

The bill provides punishments including the death penalty for crimes against women and children.

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Legislative Council on Friday unanimously passed the Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020, which provides for stringent punishment including the death penalty for crimes against women and children.

The state Assembly had cleared the bill, modelled on the `Disha Act’ of Andhra Pradesh, on Thursday. It will now be sent for the President’s assent.

The bill prescribes that probes of such crimes be completed in 30 days from the date of the incident, and makes it mandatory for social media platforms and internet service providers to share information if required by investigation officials.

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Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil tabled it in the Upper House of the legislature. “I would not claim it is a foolproof Act but it would expedite the investigation and work as a deterrent. The Act not only protects women but also imposes a fine of Rs three lakh if someone tries to misuse it and tarnish the image of a person (by filing a false complaint),” he said.

On the provision of the death penalty for rape, he said, “Not every convicted person will get capital punishment. The decision will depend on the severity of the crime,”. If necessary, a 30-day extension can be given for completing the probe.

Leader of Opposition in the Council Pravin Darekar said, “Forensic laboratories and cyber cells are facing shortage of manpower, infrastructure and funding. The state government should make necessary provisions for them,”

“I welcome the provision to set up special courts to look into such crimes at the district level. But they should get sufficient infrastructure, new judges, and staff,” he added.

Walse-Patil said the state government has already decided that students who complete cyber and forensic security courses will be offered internships.

“This will address the shortage of staff in cyber security cells and forensic labs,” the minister said.

Council chairman-in-chair Neelam Gorhe said, I congratulate everyone who helped with the formulation of the Shakti Act. I urge leader of opposition Darekar (who belongs to the BJP) to ensure that the bill gets signed at the earliest so that the Act will come into force.

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