The Andhra Pradesh government has opened up Disha police stations across 18 police district headquarters to tackle cases of crimes against women in a speedy manner.  The AP govt. took this initiative after the horrific gangrape and murder case of a 26-year-old woman in Hyderabad in November 2019 that grabbed countrywide attention. The woman was also named Disha by the media after whose name these police stations have been named. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy inaugurated the first Disha police station at in Rajamahendravaram city in East Godavari district on Saturday.

“It is a historic day. Eighteen such Disha police stations will be set up in the entire state, besides an exclusive court in each district to try cases relating to crimes against women and children. Special Public Prosecutors will also be appointed for these courts to ensure a better conviction, which also enables to strengthen the current system by four times,” Reddy said.

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The state government on December 13, 2019 passed the Andhra Pradesh Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (also known as Disha Act) which makes it mandatory for trial in cases of rape to be completed within 21 days. These police stations are a means by which, it claims that speedy trial completion will happen. Along with the Disha police station, Reddy also launched the Disha mobile application.

“We have seen the Nirbhaya Act which was brought about as a consequence of a heinous crime against a woman. However, the perpetrators of the crime have not been punished even after seven years of trial,” the CM regretted.

“That is why we enacted the Disha Act where entire investigation has to be completed within 7 days and trial within 14 days in cases where substantial conclusive evidence is available,”  Reddy said.

These 18 Disha police stations will also include some already existing women’s police stations which will be upgraded. The staff in these police stations will be headed by an officer of a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) rank officer. The team will also comprise of two circle inspectors and three sub-inspector rank officer and support staff whose strength will be between 36-47 to assist in the probe. The team will deal in cases under IPC section 376 (rape and gang rape), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and the POCSO Act.

“It is a historic day. Eighteen such Disha police stations will be set up in the entire state, besides an exclusive court in each district to try cases relating to crimes against women and children. Special Public Prosecutors will also be appointed for these courts to ensure a better conviction, which also enables to strengthen the current system by four times.”

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“Since law and order is not just a state subject, the Act is in the Concurrent List. We have done our part and are now waiting for the presidential assent. The Home Ministry has to move the file. We are hoping it is approved, although it is not entirely in our hands,” Jagan said, The News Minute reported.

“We are doing whatever is in our hands at state level,” Jagan said, adding that funds have been sanctioned for setting up 13 special courts across the 13 districts of the state. “Rs 26 crore have been sanctioned for setting up special courts. Rs 1.65 crore has been sanctioned for arranging special public prosecutors for these courts. Once the High Court approves, the courts will be set up,” he said.

Picture credit- Mekathoti

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