Disha Act mandates disposal of cases of atrocities against women within 21 days and handing out the death penalty (Photo Credit: PTI File)
The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Friday passed the 'Disha Bill' which mandates disposal of cases of atrocities against women within 21 days and handing out the death penalty. The proposed new law has been named the 'Andhra Pradesh Disha Act Criminal Law (AP Amendment) Act, 2019' as a tribute to the veterinary doctor who was raped and murdered recently in neighbouring Telangana. The Bill aims to amend the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure that will enable expeditious investigation and trial of offences against women and children, especially sexual offences, and award of death penalty.
State Home Minister M Sucharita moved the Bill in the Assembly, which the ruling YSR Congress called "revolutionary."
The new law mandates completion of investigation into cases of sexual offences within seven working days from the time of record and the trial 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 off within six months.
Three new sections 354E, 354F and 354G will be added to the IPC that define harassment of women, sexual assault on children and aggravated sexual assault on children respectively.
The sections 376 (rape), 376D (intercourse by any member of the management or staff of a hospital wtih any woman in that hospital) and 376DA (gang rape on woman under 16 years) will be amended to include the death penalty for offences listed under sections dealing with assault, sexual harassment and rape such as 354F, 354G, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376E of the IPC.
The Assembly also passed another Bill that provides for constitution of exclusive special courts for speedy trial of specified offences against women and children. The proposed new legislation will enable setting up of one or more exclusive special courts in each district for expeditious trial of specified offences against women and children.
It will also empower the state government to constitute a special police team, headed by DSP-ranked official, to investigate the specified offences.