In a recent development on Sunday, the Maharashtra government has proposed a new 'Shakti Act 2020' that allows for granting death penalty to accused who commit heinous crimes against women and children. The state government proposes to make amendments in various sections of Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, first suggested after a woman from Vidarbha was burnt alive in 2019.
Proposed amendments include not less than 10 years imprisonment for acid attacks, the same offence made non-bailable and a fine that is payable to victim and family. For plastic surgery and face reconstruction, a fine up to 10 lakh rupees has to be payable to the victim. The same punishment will be given to those who are committing gang rape and minor rape as well.
The act is similar to Andhra Pradesh's 'Disha Act', that provides death sentence for offences of rape and gang rape, with trials complete within 21 days. The Maharashtra state government has also proposed 'Special Courts and Machinery' for the strict implementation of the Shakti Act. This aims to provide various services to victims, such as an 'Offenders Registry'. Special courts will be set up in each district along with complimentary police force.
Amendments have also brought to Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973. As per the new act, a 15-day limit for investigation has given for a crime and if necessary, it will extend up to 7 days. Following this, the trial will be completed on a day-to-day basis within 30 days time period from the filing of the charge sheet.
The Shakti Act also proposes strict enactment of punishment for cyber crimes against women. Harassment through any mode of social media would be given the punishment of imprisonment for 2 years and a fine up to 1 lakh. If the investigative authorities failed to conduct a proper investigation on time, they also risk imprisonment up to 6 months with fine, sometimes extending to 2 years. It also proposed the addition of Section 354 E, for making defamatory content and harassment through online platforms.