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Maharashtra government’s Shakti Bill, 2020

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 24, Dec 2021
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A joint committee on Maharashtra government’s Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020 has submitted its report.

Key recommendations made by the committee:

  1. Capital punishment in rape cases.
  2. Time-limit of 30 days to complete the probe since the day of registration of the complaint.
  3. Onus on social media platforms as well as Internet data providing companies to share data for police investigation.
  4. The original Bill did not have a provision for filing anticipatory bail plea in case of false complaints or if a person is harassed deliberately. The committee has decided to drop the recommendation.

What is the reason given by Maharashtra to bring in a new law?

An increase in the number of cases of violence, specifically sexual violence against women and children.

What does the draft bill proposes?

  1. The draft Bill proposes to make changes to the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
  2. The changes are proposed in existing sections of rape, sexual harassment, acid attack and child sexual abuse.
  3. The Bill proposes death penalty in cases of rape, gang rape, rape by persons in authority, aggravated sexual assault of minors and in cases of acid attack when grievous injury is caused.
  4. The death penalty is proposed in cases which are heinous in nature and where adequate conclusive evidence is available and circumstances warrant exemplary punishment.
  5. Section 326 of the IPC applied in case of acid attack to be amended to make provision of minimum 15 years to maximum life imprisonment to the guilty along with monetary fine. The expenditure of plastic surgery and face reconstruction operations will be taken care from the monetary fine to be charged on the guilty.

Are there any specific provisions related to social media?

The draft Bill proposes an additional law to deal with abuse of women on social media.

Section 354E is added to include intentional acts creating “a sense of danger, intimidation, and fear to a woman” apart from insulting her modesty by any act, deed or words including offensive communication will be an offence with imprisonment and fine.

  • This also includes uploading morphed videos of women or threatening them with uploading of photos, videos which could defame, cause disrepute to them or violate their privacy.
  • Earlier, the provision of punishment in this regard was simple imprisonment up to one month or a fine of Rs 5 lakh or both. Now, the committee has increased the imprisonment up to three months and imposed a fine of Rs 25 lakh or both.

Provisions for “false” information and “implied consent”:

The Bill also makes provision for making a “false complaint” or provides false information in respect of offence committed stating that anyone who does that “solely with the intention to humiliate, extort or threaten or defame or harass”.

  • For this, the committee has proposed imprisonment not less than three years and up to three years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. Earlier, the provision was simple imprisonment up to one year and a fine, which was not specified.