Death Penalty Current Affairs - 2020

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Andhra Pradesh Cabinet clears Disha Bill

The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on December 11, 2019 cleared the Disha Bill that proposed harsh punishment for crimes against women. Disha bill is also known as the Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) bill.

Key Features

The act provides harsh punishments to those who did heinous crimes against women. The decision was taken to protect women and children in the state.  The cabinet also approved establishment of special courts for offences against women and children under Women and Children Act, 2019. The courts will also deal with cases under POCSO (Protection of Children against Sexual Offence) act.

The act specifies that judgement for every case registered should be pronounced with in 21 days. Special attention should be given to cases such as rape, acid attacks.

Punishment

Under the act, those found guilty under the act will be tried under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code. However, the punishment has been increased. Accused with proven charges of sexual attack on children will be imprisoned for 10 to 14 years.

The act also includes strict actions against persons uploading degrading posts against women on social media. In this case, the first-time offenders will be punished with 2 years of jail term and the second term offenders will be punished with four years of jail term.

The act proposes death sentence for heinous crimes against women.

Background of the act

The act was drafted to hasten the trial process of crimes against women and children. Currently the time period to solve these cases in the state is 4 months. The act reduces it to 21 days. The act has also increased the punishment to 10 years of jail that was previously 3 to 5 years in case of sexual abuse against children.

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Parliament passes Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Parliament passed Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to provide stricter punishments for child sex abuse. It was first passed by Rajya Sabha on July 24, 2019 and then by Lok Sabha on August 1, 2019. The Bill amends Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012 which provides legal framework to protect children from offences such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.

Salient Features of Bill

Penetrative sexual assault: The bill increases minimum punishment for this offence from 7 years to 10 years. It also provides for with imprisonment between 20 years to life, with fine if person commits penetrative sexual assault on child below age of 16 years.

Aggravated penetrative sexual assault: The Bill adds two more grounds to definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault. These include: (i) assault resulting in death of child and (ii) assault committed during natural calamity or in any similar situations of violence. It also increases minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years, and maximum punishment to death penalty.

Aggravated sexual assault: The Bill adds two more offences to definition of aggravated sexual assault. These include: (i) assault committed during natural calamity and (ii) administrating or help in administering any chemical substance or any hormone to child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.

Child Pornography: The Bill defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct that involves child such as photograph, video, digital or even computer generated image indistinguishable from actual child. It also enhances punishments for certain offences related to child pornography.

Storage of pornographic material: It increases punishment for storage of pornographic material with imprisonment between three to five years, or fine, or both. In addition, it also adds two other offences for storage of pornographic material involving children. These include: (i) transmitting, displaying, distributing such material except for the purpose of reporting it and (ii) failing to destroy or delete or report pornographic material involving child.

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