The Andhra Pradesh Disha Act and the Andhra Pradesh Special Court for Specific Offences against Women and Children Act 2019 were cleared by the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on Wednesday and the Bills are scheduled to be taken up for discussion in the Legislative Assembly this week.
As per these new laws, if there is conclusive evidence to prove crimes committed against women, the police can wrap up investigation in a week and file the charge sheet within 14 days. The judicial process of awarding punishment would be concluded within 21 days.
In cases of heinous crimes like rape, the death sentence would be awarded under the new law.
According to an official of the state’s Home Department, the Bill will reduce the investigation period from four months to 21 days.
Also, special courts will be set up to try cases of crimes against women and children in the state. According to officials, the process started on Thursday.
The Disha Act also empowers the police and courts to take action under Indian Penal Code section 354 (E) against those who upload posts on social media that degrade women or damage their reputation. First time offenders would be sentenced to prison for two years, second time offenders would get four years in jail.
Also, under the new law, action would be taken under IPC section 354 (F) on those involved in sexual assault on children. Offenders in such cases will be sentenced to 10-14 years in prison and depending on the severity of the crime, the punishment would be extended to life imprisonment.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet also decided to extend the imprisonment for crimes under the POCSO Act. The Act also makes it compulsory for police to register a “Zero FIR’’, which means that police have to register a case anywhere, irrespective of jurisdiction.
The rape and murder of a 50-year-old widow in East Godavari district on December 2 may be the first case to be tried under the new laws.