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Disha Bill, 2020 : Key Features

Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill:

The Union government informed the Lok Sabha that an inter-ministerial consultation for the Andhra Pradesh Disha (Special Courts for Specified Offences against Women and Children) Bill, 2020, had been initiated.

  • The Bill paves the way for awarding the death penalty for rape and gang rape.
  • The Bill was reserved by the Governor for the assent of the President.
  • Bills received from States for the assent of the President are processed in consultation with the nodal ministries/departments.

Key features of the Bill:

  • It envisages the completion of the investigation in seven days and the trial in 14 working days, where there is adequate conclusive evidence, and reducing the total judgment time to 21 days from the existing four months.
  • It prescribes life imprisonment for other sexual offences against children and includes Section 354 F and 354 G in IPC.
  • In cases of harassment of women through social or digital media, the Act states two years imprisonment for the first conviction and four years for second and subsequent convictions. For this, a new Section 354 E will be added in IPC, 1860.
  • As per the Bill, the Andhra Pradesh government will establish, operate and maintain a register in electronic form, to be called the ‘Women & Children Offenders Registry’. This registry will be made public and will be available to law enforcement agencies.
  • The government will establish exclusive special courts in each district to ensure a speedy trial.
  • These courts will exclusively deal with cases of offences against women and children including rape, acid attacks, stalking, voyeurism, social media harassment of women, sexual harassment and all cases under the POCSO Act.
  • The government will constitute special police teams at the district level to be called District Special Police Team to be headed by DSP for investigation of offences related to women and children.
  • The government will also appoint a special public prosecutor for each exclusive special court.