Disha Act: Key Features of the anti Sexual Offense Law
"Most men fear being laughed and humiliated by a romantic prospect but most women fear of death and rape" - Gavin De Becker (Author)
Nirbhaya case in 2012 was expected to become an eye-opener for India to deal with such cases of violence against women with an iron hand through a tough law, unfortunately, it was not!
So, seven years later, a Nirbhaya-like case repeated and this time in Hyderabad when a female veterinarian named Disha (given by police to protect identity) from Telangana was ambushed, abducted and sexually assaulted by four men.
On 27th November 2019, at 9:15 pm, Disha got a flat tire while she was returning from work on her scooter. She called up her sister stating the problem. Later, the accused stated that they offered her the help but since she denied it, they ambushed her towards the bushes near the toll gate. She was screaming and crying for help, therefore a bottle of pure alcohol (Whiskey) was poured and gutted down her throat to keep her silent.
Taking turns, the four accused men sexually assaulted and gang-raped her until she bled severely and lost consciousness. They continued assaulting her and later when she regained her consciousness, she was smothered terribly. The accused wrapped her in a blanket and took her almost about 30 kilometers away from the place where she was assaulted. They took her body under the bridge and burnt it using petrol and diesel until the corpse was charred.
What is Disha Act?
Such atrocities brought back the same triggered emotions that were prevalent back in 2012. The degree of crime had deepened so terribly that it left a scare of fear in the minds of people. After this case, the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed two bills unanimously on December 13th, 2019. The bills being: Andhra Pradesh Disha Act- Andhra Pradesh Special Courts for specified offenses against women and children and Andhra Pradesh Disha Act- Criminal law (AP) amendment act, 2019.
What are the key features of the Disha Act?
Disha act includes the provisions and strictly envisages the completion of investigation of any offenses against women or children in 7 days and trail in 14 working days, where there is adequate conclusive proof thereby reducing the ambit of time to 21 days from existing 4 months.
The Act also enacts capital punishment for rape of any kind where there is adequate prima facie evidence. The provision is given by amending Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860. Inc cases of sexual harassment of women through any form of digital media, the accused would be liable for 2 years of imprisonment for a first conviction and 4 years or more for subsequent convictions depending on the degree of crime.
A new section would be added in the Indian Penal Code of 1860 as Section 354 (E) which enacts and state life imprisonment of any other form of sexual offenses against children and this provision would be included in section 354(F) and 354(G).
Andhra Pradesh State government would also establish and provide operation and maintenance of the register in an electronic form which would be termed as" women and children's offender's registry". The register will be made public and would be available to all the legal enforcement agencies.
The state government makes provisions for exclusive special courts for each district for offenses against women and children alike, all crimes of rape, sexual assault, acid attacks, social media harassment of women, stalking and voyeurism, child abuse and including all cases mentioned in the Protection of children from sexual offenses act (POCSO) 2012. The government to appoint special public prosecutor for each special court and special police forces for each district headed by the District Special Police Officer (DSP)
The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y S Jaganmohan Reddy addressing the House before the bills were passed stated it as an "a revolutionary step" to instill justice in the state for such atrocities on the female gender.
It's not just the state of Andhra Pradesh but in the 28 states and 8 union territories, a totality of 36 entities and statistically, every 20 minutes a girl is either sexually assaulted, stalked, harassed on social media or rapes. It is commendable of the government of Andhra Pradesh to have taken steps against the offenses of women.
The state legislation assemblies have the powers to enact the Disha Act in their peripheral boundaries and enact strictly on it. The state government must take strict actions against the offenses and crimes committed against women and children. The deterrent theory of penal action must be taken against the monstrous crimes by the accused so that the cycle of repeating the history of abominable crimes could be stopped. Recently, the head of Delhi Commission of Women Swati Maliwal in a letter to the Honorable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi demanded immediate implementation of the Disha Act through the country. After all, each drop of water forming the ocean counts.
For criminal offenses like these, capital punishment may not scream justice to the evil atrocious pain the victims go through. It may not justify the wellbeing of the mental scars of fear the victims go through.
The thought of having an uncomfortable touch wouldn't just vanish away once the accused are merely hanged. The nation, this world should have a zero-tolerance towards humans who have zero humanity. Capital punishment is the need of the hour for criminal offenses like rape and Andhra Pradesh's government through the listings in Disha Act has certainly taken has certainly taken a step towards it.
There so many sexual offensive cases that are unregistered because of the "societal pressure" since most of the accused being the one from family, relatives, or the same background stops the victim from naming them or going against them. Disha Act implemented across the nation would give the new rise to the terminology of justice and would help in the massive slowdown of criminal offenses. It is definitely of high importance for the greater good of humanity.
(Shuvangi Das is a law student from Xavier Law School, Bhubaneswar. A woman who's an orator and pretty vocal about her opinions and what she believes in. Her absolute platform gives her an opportunity to be heard and she make its maximum utilization)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.