If someone files a complaint or gives wrong information to a public servant, punishment will escalate
In 2020, Maharashtra saw a jump of 14 per cent in crime rate as against 2019, the data from the state Crime Investigation Department (CID) revealed. A report published in IE stated the crime against women saw a drop as compared to 2019. The 2019 data from the National Crime Records Bureau revealed that Maharashtra is second on the list with 32.3 lakh cases of crimes registered in the country.
In an effort to control the increasing crimes against women and children, the Maharashtra government tabled a report containing the recommendations of a joint selection committee studying the Shakti Bill. The Maharashtra government’s Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020, proposes to increase the quantum of punishment for offences such as rapes, acid attacks and capital, heavy fines and speedy trials for the perpetrators.
In July this year, the state government extended the deadline for the Joint committee on Shakti Bill. Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil presented in the Lower House of the legislature the recommendations of the joint committee’s report on the Shakti Criminal Laws. The Bill was sent to a 21-member joint committee in the budget session for scrutiny and is likely to be passed in the winter session.
The Shakti Bill recommends
Patil informed the House that the bill provides an onus on social media platforms, internet and mobile telephone data if they fail to provide data to the police for investigation under Section 175A. The investigating officers can seek data from social media platforms and mobile data providers in women assault cases and if they fail to provide within a time frame of seven days, then it may attract three months of imprisonment in jail and a fine of Rs 25 lakh. The data must be within three days at the pain of penalty under the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act.
The committee has proposed an increase in the quantum of punishments for men, women and children for acid attack and rape cases or in any case if the modesty of a woman is outraged and she is threatened by any means of communication under Section 345E, the Indian Express (IE) revealed in its report. It further recommends that the investigation period must be increased from the existing 15 days to 30 days and if the probe is not completed on time, then further extension can be given. Earlier, the extension period was seven days.
Punishment in case of acid attacks
According to the recommendations, in the case of acid attacks, section 326 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will be amended. This means there will be a provision of a minimum of fifteen years to maximum life imprisonment for the guilty along with the penalty. The accused will have to pay the expenses of plastic surgery and face reconstruction operations for the victim.
What if someone files a false complaint?
Patil informed that if someone files a complaint or gives wrong information to a public servant, punishment will increase. The provisions of the bill are being made more strict to punish the culprits and it is also important to save the innocent. Severe and stringent punishment is required if people file false or wrong complaints. Moreover, a fine of Rs one lakh will be imposed and imprisonment of not less than three years and up to three years will be given if someone files a false complaint.
The minister further explained the bill seeks to amend Section 100 of the IPC. As per the reports, in sexual harassment cases, two social workers granted by the state government’s Women and Child Welfare Department or two public servants can be taken as independent witnesses.
When the Shakti Bill was first tabled?
In December 2020, the Maharashtra government first tabled the Shakti Bill which is drafted on the lines of the Disha Act in Andhra Pradesh. The bill was introduced in the Assembly to bring laws for the safety of women and children and to reduce the incidents of violence and atrocities against women and children in the state.
Later on, the government referred the Bill to the committee and a total of thirteen meetings were held before submitting its recommendations. The committee has repealed the provision to not provide anticipatory bail to people who file wrong or false complaints.