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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Andhra Cabinet okays Disha Bill that dictates judiciary

While ordering the prosecution to complete its work in 14 days is permissible, the Andhra Pradesh government ordering the judiciary to conclude a case in 21 days is untenable

The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet approved of the Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill, 2019, on Wednesday. Now it is mandatory for the conclusion of — and sentencing in — a case of rape and gang rape in 21 days while the punishment for the offence committed in the State will be death. But the bill may run into rough weather when it meets with the vexed issue of mutual independence of the legislature and the judiciary.

The bill will be introduced in the current session of the Legislative Assembly. This bill seeks to amend the Andhra Pradesh Crimes Act. It has been named the Andhra Pradesh Disha Bill.

While States of the country do have their own laws in addition to the laws of the Union, none asks the courts of law to conclude cases of a type in a stipulated time

This law is being made in the memory of the woman veterinarian who was raped and murdered in neighbouring Telangana recently.

Another draft law was approved by the Cabinet today to pave the way for the formation of special courts to prosecute women and children in cases of atrocities.

According to sources in the Andhra Pradesh government, both these bills will be introduced in the current winter session of the State Assembly. Under the proposed Andhra Pradesh Disha Act, there is a provision of capital punishment for rape.

The amended law provides for the completion of the investigation in seven days and prosecution from the court in the next 14 days in cases where there is evidence to be taken cognisance of so that the sentence can be given within 21 days.

While States of the country do have their own laws in addition to the laws of the Union, none asks the courts of law to conclude cases of a type in a stipulated time. However, the part of the Andhra law that orders the conclusion of the prosecution in a given number of days can be upheld as prosecution, wherein the police complete the probe and the prosecutor appointed by the State prepares the case against the accused, is the job and prerogative of the executive.

The current law gives four months time to complete the prosecution in such cases. The Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy, has approved the draft Andhra Pradesh Special Courts Act, 2019, for specified offences against women and children’.

Under the proposed law, special courts will be set up in all the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh to prosecute in cases of atrocities against women and children such as rape, sexual harassment, acid attack and harassment through social media.

In view of the seriousness of the crime, the proposed law provides for punishment ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment along with the punishment under the POCSO law.

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