Indian Penal Code (IPC) Current Affairs - 2020

Group of Ministers report on legal framework to prevent sexual harassment

On January 19, 2020, the Group of Ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah finalized its report to change the legal framework that will help prevent sexual harassment of women at work places.

Highlights

The Group of Ministers was constituted in October 2018 after the “Me Too” campaign. The group was reconstituted under the Home Minster in July 2019. Apart from this, the GoI is also working on a project to change the IPC (Indian Penal Code) that was introduced during British rule in 1860. The ministers have recommended to strengthen the laws.

Referrals of the report

The report is predominantly based on the following

  • Vishaka guidelines issued by Supreme Court in 1997. It is be noted that the Sexual Harassment of Women and Workplace, 2013 was constituted based on Vishaka guidelines
  • Justice J.S, Verma Committee recommendations. The committee was constituted in the awake of Nirbhaya Gang Rape and murder in 2012
  • Verma Committee-The Committee recommended employment tribunal instead of ICC.

Significance

According to NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), in 2017 and 2018, the number of sexual harassments of women at work premises were 479 and 401 respectively. The cases were registered under IPC Section 509 and were highest in cities such as Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

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.