The Andhra Pradesh government has asked the Union govt why the state cannot name a legislation after Disha, a victim of gang-rape and murder in Hyderabad, when the latter named a similar legislation after Nirbhaya, another victim of gang-rape and murder in New Delhi. The state government recently sent its comments on the objections raised by the Centre many months ago to the proposed 'Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill Criminal Law (AP Amendment) Bill, 2019' that the state Legislature had passed in December 2019.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs last year sought the state's clarification on the comments made by the Women Safety Division of MHA on the Bill. The state government contended that the Code of Criminal Procedure was part of the Concurrent List and, as such, it had a right to make necessary amendments.
"Kerala and other state governments have done that," AP pointed out. "We have sent our clarifications to the Centre 20 days ago,'' Deputy Inspector General of Police G Pala Raju said, on behalf of Home Minister T Vanitha, at a press conference on May 5, Thursday evening.
The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly had on December 13, 2019, passed the "Disha Bill" seeking 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 pronouncing death penalty.
Simultaneously, the state also passed the AP Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill, 2019. The state Governor referred the Bills to the Centre in January 2020 for presidential assent.
Following objections raised by the Centre, the state withdrew the AP Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill and passed a similar Bill with modifications in December 2020. The Centre again raised objections over certain provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill Criminal Law (AP Amendment) Bill, 2019.
"The Centre objected to the provision for geo-tagging sexual offenders. It also objected to giving a specific name to the proposed legislation," Pala Raju replied, when asked about the Centre's objections.
He said the Centre also objected to the use of certain words in the Bill. "We have sent the Bill with revised portions to the Centre 20 days ago," he said.
State Home Minister Vanitha said the intention of the proposed Disha law was to ensure speedy justice in cases of sexual offences against women and girls. "The new law is only meant to award harsher punishments in quick time to the offenders so that it acts as a deterrent to others," Vanitha noted.
Director General of Police K V Rajendranath Reddy, who was also present at the press conference, said though the new law was yet to come into force, they have been working with its spirit to ensure speedy justice.