Andhra Pradesh’s Amravati witnessed an unprecedented ‘Rakhi’ ceremony as the women legislators of YSRCP tied the sacred thread to CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. Their elation was credited to the government’s decision to introduce the ‘Disha Act’ for women’s safety.
It was on Wednesday that the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) led government passed its approval to enact the Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2019. Known otherwise as the Disha Act, it calls for harsher punishments for heinous crimes meted out against women.
The Disha Act
No one could forget the tragedy that was the Hyderabad vet’s rape and murder case. The entire nation decried the horrendous act and vouched for a speedy trial to punish the accused.
The Disha Act, as a nod of respect for the departed, has been passed with exactly those intentions. The act now proposes capital punishments to rape culprits, if found guilty.
Thus, culprits of rape and gang-rape will be awarded the death penalty under the Disha Act.
It also ensures that justice should be served within 21 days, after an allotted investigation time of 14 days. This means that the investigation and trial of such cases (with adequate conclusive evidence) must be finished within 7 and 14 working days respectively.
This should be followed by an expedited judgement time of 21 days, as opposed to the previous 4 months of judgement time.
Introduction Of Special Courts
The cabinet also paved way for the establishment of the A.P. Special Court for Specified Offences against Women and Children Bill, 2019.
This is to cater to specific cases of offences against women and children like rape and gang-rape, voyeurism, sexual harassment, acid attacks and cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Also Read: Sad To See Media Flout The Name And Picture Of Hyderabad Rape Victim Inspite Of SC Barring Them
Amendments To Relevant Provisions Of The Indian Penal Code (IPC)
There is special mention of action under IPC Section 354 (E) against persons who upload social media posts that degrade women. Punishments include a 2 year jail-term for first-time offenders and a separate 4 year term for second-time offenders.
This becomes important when we analyse the Hyderabad vet’s case. Not only were her pictures wrongfully circulated online, but her name was also revealed by various outlets.
The moniker ‘Disha’ was coined in a grave attempt to shield her identity from further disrespect.
There would also be action under Section 354 (F) wherein the perpetrators of sexual assault against children would be punished with 10 to 14 years in jail, which can even extend to a lifetime imprisonment in case of severity in the crime.
Changes That Were Much Needed
As a layperson reading up on all these historic changes, I can only beam with joy as finally the government, albeit a state government is focusing on important issues unlike some people (cough cough, North Indian law-makers) for a change. As a woman, I fully empathise with the female legislators’ emotions.
We are already preparing to enter the year 2020, a year that was envisaged by Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam as the one that was going to catapult India to greater heights. The reality is far from that; if anything, we only have a country that is marred by violence and atrocities against women.
The passing of the Disha Act should be the first of many more milestones to come, before we all get to proudly say that we are citizens of a country that is a safe haven for all, including its women.
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