Andhra passes law to try rape accused in 21 days

Andhra passes law to try rape accused in 21 days

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The Andhra Pradesh cabinet on Wednesday approved draft legislation that mandates disposal of cases of atrocities against women within 21 days and handing out the death penalty. The legislation, an amendment to the AP Criminal Law, will be called the "AP Disha Act", in memory of the veterinary doctor raped and murdered in neighbouring Telangana recently. 

 Another draft legislation has also been approved, which will pave the way for the establishment of special courts to try cases of atrocities against women and children. The two Bills are expected to be tabled in the ongoing winter session of the state Legislature, government sources said.

Under the proposed AP Disha Act, the death penalty has been prescribed for rape. Where cognizable evidence is established in such cases, the amended law prescribes completion of investigation in seven days and court trial in subsequent 14 days so as to award punishment within 21 days. The existing law permits trial in such cases in four months.

The Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, also approved the draft 'AP Special Court for Specified Offences Against Women and Children Act, 2019.' Under this act, special courts will be set up in each of the 13 districts to try cases of atrocities against women and children like rape, sexual harassment, acid attacks and harassment through social media.

Depending on the gravity of the offence, the punishment will range from 10 years to life imprisonment, including under the POCSO Act. Under the POCSO Act, the current punishment is imprisonment for 3-5 years. "These will be significant legislation and should act as a deterrent for crimes against women and children, a cabinet Minister said after the meeting.