HYDERABAD: Amidst growing concerns over delay in implementing court sentences to the convicts in cases of crime against women, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is examining the Andhra Pradesh Disha Act 2019 which is currently before it. As the Act proposes changes to both Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (Cr PC), the subject comes under Concurrent List of the Constitution.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who described himself as a “concerned father of two girl children” during the course of a discussion on the Act in the Assembly last year, initiated this stringent law which made changes to the Nirbhaya Act (Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act 2013 by further reducing the time for trial and enhancing punishments to the guilty.

Jagan while addressing a gathering of women on the occasion of opening the first Disha women police station in Rajahumundry city in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday said that the Centre was expected to approve the Act soon and sent to the Presidential assent. “I am hopeful that the MHA would clear the act at the earliest and it would be a model for several other states in the country,” he said.

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Mekatoti Sucharita told this newspaper on phone from Rajahmundry that several states had showed interest in adopting the Disha law as it meets the growing concerns over women safety in the country.  “Our law is better than that of Nirbhaya Act passed by the previous UPA government seven years ago, around 10 states have sought details from us,” she said.

One of the salient features of this Disha Act is decreasing the number of period for trial from four months (two months investigation and two months trial in a special court) to 21 days (seven days for investigation and 14 days for trial in a special court), if there is conclusive evidence against the accused. The process of forensic examination too is cut down to hours, instead of three to four weeks now.

Andhra Pradesh’s rape law proposes death penalty to the guilty and makes every rape of a minor girl a rarest of rare case. The law adds Section 354F and 354 G to the IPC 1860 and Sections 173 and 309 the CrPC, 1973. The MHA is understood to have referred the changes to the opinion of the law and women empowerment ministries.

Not waiting for the clearance from the Centre, Chief Minister Jagan on Saturday opened the first Disha police station in 18 cities and towns of AP and launched an application, for women safety. This App with a SoS button, will ensure police patrol van support within 15 to 30 minutes to any woman anywhere in the state in times of emergency. Besides one forensic laboratory, AP will have two more laboratories by the month end.

“I urge every woman to download this free application, from playstore and feel secured,” said Jagan while promising efficient policing even in remote areas. Every Disha police is headed by a DSP rank officer and will have a team of 30 to 40 cops and most of them women. “I wish to see no woman suffers from want of help in times of emergency,” the Chief Minister said.

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