VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Friday passed the Disha Bill — also known as the Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019 — and the Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children Act 2019.
Introducing the bills, Home Minister Mekathoti Sucharitha said the new Acts are for ensuring speedy investigation, trial, and conviction in the cases of crime against women and children.
“Investigation will be completed in 14 days and the culprits will be punished in 21 days from the time the case is filed,” she explained.
The Home Minister said that to ensure speedy justice, in every district, a fast-track court will be set up to deal with such cases.
Further, amendments have been made to the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure to increase the quantum of punishments in crime against women and children.
The amendment to Sec 376 E states that – ‘Provided that whoever commits offences under sections 354 F, 354 G, 376, 376 A, 376 AB, 376 D, 376 DA, 376 DB or 376 E of the Indian Penal Code, which have the characteristic of being heinous in nature and where adequate conclusive evidence is there and the circumstances warrant exemplary punishment, he shall be punished with death.’
A new section 354E – Harassment of Women – was added to the IPC after Sec 354D.
This states that whoever annoys or causes distress – a sense of danger or alarm, intimidation, fear, insult, shame or embarrassment to a woman by any act, deeds or words including by abusing or causing or threatening to cause hurt, by seeking to establish contact by personally approaching or contacting a woman by telephone, email, social media platforms or in or through any other digital mode, by sending unwanted or offensive communication in any form or by using social media or electronic media in any form to defame or cause disrepute to a woman or whoever forces or compels any woman to respond to any romantic overtures by threatening to cause hurt or danger of any kind if such romantic overtures are not reciprocated – shall be punishable on first conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, shall also be liable to fine up to Rs 1 lakh and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment for term which may extend to four years and shall also be liable to fine up to Rs 5 lakh.
While extending support to the bills – Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu cautioned the government to be careful and ensure innocent are not punished.
He recalled the remarks of Chief Justice of India Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde – There can be no instant justice.