Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Act

• The Maharashtra Assembly passed the Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Act unanimously. With the passage of the Bill, it became the second state in India after Andhra Pradesh to approve death penalty for heinous offences of rape and gangrape.

About:

• The Act has amended the existing criminal laws to include death penalty as punishment in cases of rape and gangrape “in cases which have the characteristic of offence is heinous in nature and where adequate conclusive evidence is there and the circumstances warrant exemplary punishment, with death”.

• The existing law on rape had provisions for death penalty only in cases of repeated offences.

• The Act has also enhanced fines and punishment for offences of sexual violence against women and minors. Under the POCSO Act too, punishment for penetrative sexual assault in heinous cases has been enhanced to death penalty.

• The Act requires the trial in these cases to be conducted on a day-to-day basis and completed within 30 working days from the date of filing of the chargesheet.

• It also requires for the investigation to be completed within a month of the FIR which can be extended by another month by the concerned Special Inspector General of Police or Commissioner of Police only for specific reasons given in writing.

• In cases of grievous hurt caused due to acid attacks under Section 326A, the punishment has been enhanced to a minimum of 15 years which can be extended to the remainder of the natural life of the perpetrator along with fine.

• In cases of voluntarily throwing acid or attempting to throw it, punishment under section 326B has been enhanced to a minimum of seven years and a maximum of ten years.

• The fine amount in these cases will be towards medical expenses including plastic surgery and face reconstruction, the Act states.

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Mains Paper 2: Polity

Prelims level: Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Act

Mains level: Social issues

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