Written bySiddhant Pandey ·
The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Friday passed two bills to expedite the delivery of justice in cases of sexual crimes.
The Bills—dubbed Andhra Pradesh Disha Bills—seek to award the death penalty to rape convicts and mandate that such cases must be settled within 21 days.
The development comes after massive outrage over the gang-rape and murder of a veterinarian in neighboring Telangana.
The Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2019 says "all cases regarding offenses against women shall be investigated and tried expeditiously with provisions of death penalty," the AP Chief Minister's Office said, provided there is conclusive evidence.
The amended law deals with cases including rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, social media harassment of women, sexual harassment and all cases under the POCSO Act.
The Bill amends IPC Section 376, ensuring death penalty for rape.
The Bill says investigation must be completed in seven working days and trial in 14 working days, thereby reducing the time of judgment to 21 days.
The Bill also includes new Sections, 354F and 354G, 'Sexual Assault on Children'.
Apart from rape, other sexual offenses against children warrant life imprisonment under the Bill.
Further, the Bill adds another new Section 354E 'Harassment of Women' which lists two years imprisonment for the first conviction in cases of harassment of women through social or digital media. Four years' imprisonment will be awarded for subsequent convictions.
The second legislation that was passed is the Andhra Pradesh Special Court for Specified Offenses Against Women and Children Bill, 2019.
It allows the establishment of special courts in all 13 districts to exclusively deal with crimes against women and children.
Special Public Prosecutors and Special Police force will be employed for such cases.
A Women and Children Offenders Registry will also be maintained.
The CM's office said in the statement, "The Disha Bill is in the concurrent list of State and Centre, it will go for Presidential Accord which will attract the national attention through debates and discussions."
The statement added, "The two Bills will stand as an answer to the system which needs to expedite cases where there is conclusive evidence."
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said the 2012 Nirbhaya case, where the culprits are yet to be punished, was considered before drafting the new laws. The case pertains to the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in December 2012 in Delhi.
On November 27, a 26-year-old veterinarian, Dr. Disha (name changed), was gang-raped and murdered on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Her charred body was found the next day, sparking massive uproar across the nation.
Four accused were arrested in connection with the case, who were killed in a police encounter on December 6.
Following the case, the calls for speedy trials became louder.
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