The Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2020 has been received for assent of the President of India.
- As per practice, Bills received from States for assent of President are processed in consultation with the nodal Ministries/Departments. Accordingly, the consultation process with various Ministries/Departments concerned with the Bill has been initiated.
About Disha Bill:
- As per the Bill, the Andhra Pradesh government will establish, operate and maintain a register in electronic form, to be called the ‘Women & Children Offenders Registry’. This registry will be made public and will be available to law enforcement agencies.
- Exclusive punishment of death penalty in cases relating to rape and murder of a woman where there is adequate conclusive evidence.
- The judgment will have to be pronounced in 21 working days from date of offence in cases of rape crimes with substantial conclusive evidence.
- The Bill prescribes life imprisonment for sexual offences against children as the existing punishment for molestation/sexual assault on children under the POCSO Act, 2012 ranges minimum of three years to a maximum of seven years of imprisonment.
- In cases of harassment of women through email, social media, digital mode or any other form, the guilty shall be punishable with imprisonment. At present no such provision exists in the Indian Penal Code.
- Exclusive special courts in each district of the State to ensure speedy trial. These courts will exclusively deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, social media harassment of women, sexual harassment and all cases under the POCSO Act.
- Constitution of special police teams and appointment of the special public prosecutor in special courts. There is no such provision in existing laws.
- Bill paves the way for awarding death penalty for rape and gang rape and expediting verdicts in trials of such cases to 21 days.
- 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.
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