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DISHA BILL – Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the bill to ensure speedy trial in offences

Introduction

The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on 11 December 2019 congruently passed two bills, Andhra Pradesh Disha Act – AP Special Courts for Specified Offnces against Women and Children Act 2019 and the Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2019 (Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2019), to ensure speedy trial in case of specified offences against women and children and for amending sections in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Background of the Bill

The act was drafted to quicken the trial procedure in cases of rape and gang rape when there is conclusive evidence against the accused. Presently the time period for rendering judgment in such cases is 4 months, whereas the act reduced it to 21 days. The bill also proposed a higher punishment of 10 years that was previously 3 to 5 years in case of sexual abuse against children.

Highlights of the Bill

  1. Death Penalty in Rape Cases

The Andhra Pradesh government proposed the death penalty as punishment in case of heinous crimes of rape and gang rape.

  1. Total judgment in 21 working days

Amendment of Section 173 and Section 309 of Cr.P.C to ensure that in relation to the heinous offences of rape, where there is conclusive evidence, investigation in 7 working days and trial shall be completed in 14 working days. Total Judgment time has been reduced to 21 working days.

  1. Establishment of Exclusive Special Courts

To ensure speedy trial, the government is establishing exclusive special courts in each district for exclusively dealing with cases of offenses against women and children including rape, gang rape, acid attack, stalking, voyeurism, sexual harassment and cases under POSCO Act.

  1. Introduction of Section 354 E and 354 F in Indian Penal Code

Under Section 354E, in case of harassment of women through mail, social media, digital mode or any other form, the guilty shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years on first conviction and with imprisonment which may extend to 4 years in second and subsequent conviction.

Under section 354F, punishment for molestation and sexual assault is increased to 5 years minimum and 7 years maximum.

– Srutha R Elayidom

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