From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Need of stringent laws for women safety
The Maharashtra government’s Shakti Criminal Laws (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020, on crimes against women and children has recommended capital punishment in rape cases.
Why have stringent laws have consistently failed to instill any fear in rapists? Discuss.
Shakti Act: Key Provisions
- Capital punishment: It proposes stringent punishment including the death penalty and heavy fines for the culprits.
- Fast-track trial: Special police teams and separate courts will be set up for investigation and trial of cases against women and children.
- Jail term: The perpetrators if found guilty will be punished with imprisonment for life for not less than ten years but may extend to the remainder of natural life or with death in cases which have characteristics of being heinous in nature.
- Compensation: A sum of Rs 10 lakh will be given to an acid attack victim for plastic surgery and facial reconstruction and the amount will be collected as fine from the convict.
- Rapid investigation: The investigation shall be completed within a period of 15 working days from the date of registration of an offence. This can be extended by 7 days.
- In-camera investigation: Some cases will be tried in-camera for the recording of evidence of victims and witnesses who are vulnerable.
Why in news?
(1) Covering acid-attacks
- Politicians in Maharashtra have recommended increasing the quantum of punishment for acid attack cases under section 326A of IPC to at least 15 years that may extend to the remainder of a convict’s natural life.
- The expenditure of plastic surgery and face reconstruction operations for the victim will be taken care of from the monetary fine to be charged on the accused.
(2) Social media accountability
- The panel has also increased the punishment under the IPC section 175A for failure to share data for probe by social media platforms, internet providers.
- Also, under Pocso Act, the data must be within three days at the pain of penalty.
(3) Curb on false complaints
- Punishment will be increased for false complaints and for giving wrong information to a public servant.
- The provisions under the bill are being made more stringent to punish the culprits and set deterrence.
- However, it is also necessary that the innocent are saved and so severe punishment is required against people filing false or wrongful complaints.
- The committee has also scrapped the provision of not giving anticipatory bail to people making wrongful or false complaints.
(4) Covering trans-persons
- Under section 354E, which provides for punishment for any act of intimidating woman and insulting her modesty, the category of offenders has been increased to cover men, women and even transgender persons.
Limitations of stringent laws
- Despite several laws, incidences of rapes continue unabated.
- In fact, now we hear cases of extreme brutality.
- The general perception is that since the laws have been made more stringent, so the rapists resort to extreme measures in a bid to destroy the evidence.
- What we need is better policing, making public spaces safer for women, ensuring round-the-clock surveillance of isolated areas, and deployment of police at all strategic points.
- Prevention and not punishment is the solution and that requires concerted efforts on part of all the stakeholders.
- It is not harsher punishments that will deter. It is the fear of being caught and not being spared.