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Andhra Assembly passes Bill for death to rapists

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Amaravati, Dec 13 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Friday unanimously passed two Bills, providing death penalty for rapists in cases where there is conclusive evidence and for stringent punishment in cases of other sexual offences against women and children.

The Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill-Criminal Law (Andhra Pradesh Amendment) Bill 2019 amending the India Penal Code, says that all cases regarding offences against women will be investigated and tried expeditiously with provisions of death penalty.

The judgment period has been reduced to 21 days from four months prescribed under Nirbhaya Act, 2013 and Criminal Amendment Act, 2018.

Under the Bill passed on Friday, the investigation will be completed in seven working days and trial completed in 14 working days.

The Bill is named after Disha, as the victim in the recent gang-rape and murder case of Hyderabad was called by the police to protect her identity.

Andhra Pradesh became first state in the country to come with such a Bill in the wake of the national outrage over Hyderabad veterinarian’s rape and murder.

Chief Minister Y. S Jagan Mohan Reddy told the Assembly that Disha Bill is in the concurrent list of State and Centre and it will be sent for President’s assent.

Reddy noted that in Nirbhaya Case the culprits are yet to be punished. He said outcry the recent Disha case received was considered before drafting the Bills.

He was apparently referring to many people hailing the killing of all four accused in an “encounter” by the police on December 6, nearly 10 days after they allegedly committed the gruesome crime.

“The government of Andhra Pradesh has prescribed exclusively death penalty for rape crimes where adequate conclusive evidence is there. No other options are provided. The provision is given by amending Section 376 of Indian Penal Code, 1860,” the government said, calling the Bill historic.

The Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill-Andhra Pradesh Special Court for Specified Offences against Women and Children Bill, 2019 will enable the state government to set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of specified offences against women and children.

It prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children and for this news sections 354 F and 354 G will be added to the IPC.

In cases of harassment of women through social or digital media, the Bill prescribed two years of imprisonment for the first conviction and four years for second and subsequent convictions. For this Section 354 E will be inserted in the IPC.

To ensure speedy trial, the state will set up exclusive special courts in all the 13 districts to 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 POCSO Act.

The state will also employ special public prosecutors and special police force dedicated for such crimes only.

A Women and Children Offenders Registry will be maintained and will be in public domain and available to law enforcement agencies.

Home Minister Mekathoti Sucharitha said even in cases of sexual assault on children, the judgment period has been reduced from one year to 21 days.

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