The Union government informed the Lok Sabha that an inter-ministerial consultation for the Andhra Pradesh Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill, 2020, had been initiated.
- The Bill paves the way for awarding the death penalty for rape and gang rape.
The Bill was reserved by the Governor for assent of the President.
- Bills received from States for assent of President are processed in consultation with the nodal ministries/departments.
- The Disha Act mandates completion of the investigation into cases of sexual offences within seven working days from the time of record, and the trial must be concluded within 14 working days from the date of filing the charge-sheet.
- The appeal against the sentence passed under the new law has to be disposed of within six months.
- It envisages the completion of investigation in 7 days and trial in 14 working days, where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and reducing total judgment time to 21 days from existing 4 months.
- The Act also prescribes, death penalty for rape crimes where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and this provision is given by amending Section 376 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
- In cases of harassment of women through social/digital media, the Act states 2 years’ imprisonment for first conviction and 4 years for second as well as subsequent convictions. For this purpose, a new Section 354 E will be added in IPC, 1860.
- It also prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children and for this purpose includes Section 354 F and 354 G in IPC.
- The Andhra Pradesh government will now establish, operate and maintain a register in electronic form, to be called ‘Women & Children Offenders Registry’. This registry will be made public and will also be available to country’s law enforcement agencies.
- The state government will also establish exclusive special courts in each district to ensure speedy trial. These courts will exclusively deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, sexual harassment, acid attackssocial media harassment of women, stalking, voyeurism and all cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. Moreover, the government will also appoint a special public prosecutor for each exclusive special court.
- The government will constitute special police teams at district level to be called District Special Police Team. It will be headed by DSP for investigation of offences related to women and children.
Disha app, developed by the technical services division of the Andhra Pradesh police, sends an alert to the Disha control room when a woman or girl in distress just shakes the mobile phone which contains the Disha App. The app also provides another way of calling for help – they can also press a button on the phone, but in emergency situations if that is not possible, the victim can send an alert to the police by simply shaking phone five times. The personnel at Disha control room in turn will alert the police available near the spot. Police will rush to the spot using GPS-equipped vehicles and assist the person in trouble or anticipating trouble.