(REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri).

A SOUTHERN Indian state passed bills on Friday (13) that could see men convicted of rape being hanged within 21 days of police registering a case, after a series of brutal sex attacks led to public demands for speedy and harsh punishment.

Indian law currently allows jail terms for rape, and death in very rare cases, but cases can last years.

The assembly of Andhra Pradesh state passed the bills a week after police shot dead four men suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old vet near Hyderabad, the former capital of the province.

Their deaths were applauded by the woman’s family and others outraged by sexual violence, but it drew criticism from rights groups about sidestepping the judicial process.

The Andhra bills reflect public anger over rising crime against women, including the death last week of a 23-year-old rape victim who was set on fire by a gang of men, which included her alleged rapists.

The state government will also set up special courts to deal with sex attacks, the statement added.

“We hope that this is the starting step and other states and the centre (federal government) also get inspired to make such laws,” said Vasireddy Padma, chairperson of Andhra Pradesh Women’s Commission.

The bills will need the approval of India’s president since criminal law falls under both provincial and federal governments.