The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Friday passed two Bills on Friday to further 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.
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 raped and murdered recently in neighbouring Telangana.
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. Section 354E will include instances of harassment over the phone, email and social media, including â€˜unwanted or offensive communicationâ€™ in any form. Section 354F defined sexual assault on children as acts performed with sexual intent involing physical contact without penetration. 354G defines aggravated sexual assault on children as cases where police officers and other public servants, or staff of hospitals and schools commit sexaul assault on a child, apart from several other cases, including those where the child is caused severe harm.
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.
These sections deal with the following cases. While sections 354F and 354G deal with sexual assault on children as mentioned above, IPC Section 376 deals with cases of rape, including gang rape. Section 376A deals with â€˜intercourse by a man with his wife during separationâ€™, 376AB with â€˜rape on a woman under twelve years of ageâ€™, and 376D with gang rape. Section 376DA involves cases of gang rape of a woman under 16 years of age, and section 376DB with gang rape of a woman under 12 years of age. Section 376E refers to repeat offences of some of the above cases, including section 376, 376A, 376AB, 376D, 376DA and 376DB.
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.
The Bill also states that the government may maintain a register, in electronic form, called the Women and Children Offenders Registry', where the names of those accused of crime against women and children will be recorded.
"...full details of the persons involved in specified offence as defined in Section 2(e) of this Act shall be maintained and made available to law enforcement agencies and made public as prescribed by the State Government. It shall be open to the Government to undertake such measures as are necessary to create awareness among the general public in regard to the matter provided for under Section 8," the Bill states.
It will also empower the state government to constitute a special police team, headed by a deputy superintendent of police-ranked official, to investigate the specified offences.