Needed Speedy Justice That rapists will be brought to book is the message that has to go out loud
The fact that such a frightening incident of gang rape has taken place in the Capital that too in a vehicle of the public transport system, in a heavily populated area, leaves a very chilling impact on people. The gang rape on 16.12.2012 in a moving bus in the Capital has shocked society and posed several questions reflecting their insecurities and sensitivities.
In this career- oriented world today, a large number of women work and use public transportation for daily commuting for various reasons. This incident is definitely going to act as a deterrent for women and their empowerment.
Some of the questions that we are faced with today are: Why do such incidents happen? Why are people not afraid of the police, the State or the law? Why is there so much insensitivity in the system? Do we have inadequate infrastructure? Is our law weak?
As the law holds, we have a fairly stringent system in place providing for 10 years’ minimum imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment for gang rapes. By itself this should serve as a major deterrent. However, the reason that it does not is because of the low rate of convictions—which in cases of crime against women is less than 25 per cent. The inordinate delay in the trial, inefficient investigation, hostile witnesses and societal pressure stigmatises the victim itself.
The worst is that a victim herself feels the immense pressure of society and therefore very often does not even approach for process or leaves the process midway.
In order for the system to work efficiently, the message has to go out loud and clear from all cross-sections of authorities and processes that the guilty cannot and will not go scot-free and will be brought to book in the most efficient manner.
On a review of this latest shocking episode in the Capital, one can only set out some observations: We desperately need monitoring, and not only after an incident but on a regular basis on concepts of neighbourhood patrolling, enhanced women force in the police and use of helpline which can assist victims in times of crisis.
I Want to Live, Mother!
Even as her condition deteriorated, the victim of the gang rape on 16.11.2012 in Delhi has shown immense determination in her battle for life. The doctors have said that the next three days would be crucial for the 23-year-old girl, who was badly injured in the attack by rapists.
In a written communication to her mother, the girl has said: “Mother, I want to live.” The girl is in a bad state with her vital organs permanently damaged. The whole family, including her mother, is in a state of shock. In a way, the inhuman manner in which the girl has been treated, there can be nothing more unfortunate for the nation.
Some unanswered questions?
People across the country have been staging protests, seeking stringent punishment for the accused. The police have acted speedily in this case by making the arrests within two days of the crime, but the question which still is left unanswered is, why act after the crime, why not before it?
The question that a bruised nation needs to ask itself, is whether we are fit enough to be the world’s largest democracy, when an innocent girl gets raped in public, she is left unattended for an hour in the country’s Capital and nobody comes to her rescue. Who knows these culprits would not have been even arrested if not for the media coverage?
Is the law and order situation of the Capital so hopeless that the patrolling police vans could do nothing? Like this we will not be able to stop rapes, we will only be able to act after the crime has happened, the damage already done. I fail to classify this action as real justice being done.
CRIME AGAINST WOMEN
Although women may be victims of any of the general crimes such as ‘Murder’, ‘Robbery’, ‘Cheating’, etc, only the crimes which are directed specifically against Women are characterised as ‘Crimes Against Women’. Various new legislations have been brought and amendments have been made in existing laws with a view to handling these crimes effectively, but results are disappointing, if facts and figures available between 2007 and 2011 are any indication.
Reported Incidents of crime
A total of 2,28,650 incidents of crime against women (both under IPC and SLL) were reported in the country during the year 2011 as compared to 2,13,585 incidences in the year 2010 recording an increase of 7.1 per cent during the year 2011. These crimes have continuously increased during 2007 – 2011 with 1,85,312 cases in the year 2007, 1,95,856 cases in the year 2008, 2,03,804 cases in the year 2009 and 2,13,585 cases in the year 2010 and 2,28,650 cases in the year 2011. West Bengal with 7.5 per cent share of country’s population has accounted for nearly 12.7 per cent of total crime against women by reporting 29,133 cases. Andhra Pradesh, accounting for nearly 7.0 per cent of the country’s population, has accounted for 12.4 per cent of total crimes against women in the country by reporting 28,246 cases in the year 2011.
(Crime rate… 18.9)
The rate of crime (see the graph) has increased marginally from 18.0 in the year 2010 to 18.9 during the year 2011. Tripura has reported the highest rate of crime against women at 37.0 during the year 2011 as compared to 18.9 crime rate at the national level.
The crime head-wise details of reported crimes during the year 2007 to year 2011 along with percentage variation are presented below. The crime against women during the year 2011 has increased by 7.1 per cent over the year 2010 and by 23.4 per cent over the year 2007. The IPC component of crimes against women has accounted for 95.8 per cent of total crimes and the rest 4.2 per cent were SLL crimes against women.
The proportion of IPC crimes committed against women towards total IPC crimes has increased during last 5 years from 8.8 per cent in the year 2007 to 9.4 per cent during the year 2011.
Crime head-wise analysis (IPC)
Rape (Sec. 376 IPC)
An increasing trend in cases of rape has been observed during 2007 2008. A mixed trend in the incidence of rape has been observed during the periods 2008 – 2011. These cases have reported an increase of 3.5 per cent in the year 2008 over the year 2007, a decline of 0.3 per cent in the year 2009 over 2008 and an increase of 3.6 per cent in 2010 over 2009 and further an increase of 9.2 per cent in the year 2011 over the year 2010.
Madhya Pradesh has reported highest number of rape cases (3,406) accounting for 14.1 per cent of total such cases reported in the country. Mizoram has reported of crime rate 7.1 as compared to National average of 2.0. Rape cases have been further categorised as incest rape and other rape cases.
Incest rape cases have decreased by 7.3 per cent from 288 cases in 2010 to 267 cases in 2011 as compared to 9.2 per cent increase in overall rape cases. Maharashtra (44 cases) has accounted for the highest (15.3 per cent) of the total such cases reported in the country.
There were 24,270 victims of rape out of 24,206 reported Rape cases in the country. 10.6 per cent (2,582) of the total victims of rape were girls under 14 years of age, while 19.0 per cent (4,646 victims) were teenaged girls (14-18 years). 54.7 per cent (13,264 victims) were women in the age-group 18-30 years. However, 15.0 per cent (3,637 victims) victims were in the age-group of 30-50 years while 0.6 per cent (141 victims) was over 50 years of age. The details are given in Table-5.3.
Offenders were known to the victims in as many as in 22,549 (94.2 per cent) cases. Parents / close family members were involved in 1.2 per cent (267 out of 22,549 cases) of these cases, neighbours were involved in 34.7 per cent cases (7,835 out of 22,549 cases) and relatives were involved in 6.9 per cent (1,560 out of 22,549 cases) cases.
Kidnapping & Abduction (Sec. 363-373 IPC)
These cases have reported an increase of 19.4 per cent during the year as compared to previous year (29,795 cases). Uttar Pradesh with 7,525 cases has accounted for 21.2 per cent of the total cases at the National level. Delhi UT has reported the highest crime rate at 12.4 as compared to the national average of 2.9.
Torture (Cruelty by Husband & Relatives) (Sec. 498…A IPC)
‘Torture’ cases in the country have increased by 5.4 per cent over the previous year (94,041 cases). 19.9 per cent of these were reported from West Bengal (19,772 cases). The highest crime rate of 21.6 was also reported from West Bengal as compared to the national rate at 8.2.
Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC)
Incidents of molestation in the country have increased by 5.8 per cent over the previous year (40,613 cases). Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest incidence (6,665) amounting to 15.5 per cent of total such incidences. Kerala has reported the highest crime rate (11.2) as compared to the national average of 3.6.
Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC)
The number of such cases has decreased by 14.0 per cent during the year over the previous year (9,961 cases). Andhra Pradesh has reported 42.7 per cent (3,658 cases) followed by Maharashtra 12.5 per cent (1,071 cases) of total incidences during the year 2011. Andhra Pradesh has reported the highest crime rate (4.3) as compared to the national average of 0.7.
Importation of Girls (Sec. 366-B IPC)
An increase of 122.2 per cent has been observed in Crime Head as 80 cases were reported during the year 2011 as compared to 36 cases in the previous year (2010). Madhya Pradesh (45 cases), Bihar (10 cases) and Karnataka (12 cases) have together contributed more than two-third of total such cases at the national level.
Crime-head wise analysis (Special Laws)
Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
Cases under this Act have registered a decrease of 2.6 per cent during the year as compared to the previous year (2,499). 20.4 per cent (497) cases were reported from Andhra Pradesh followed by Tamil Nadu 17.2 per cent (420 cases).Daman & Diu reported the highest crime rate of 2.5 as compared to the national average of 0.2.
Sati Prevention Act, 1987
One case was registered under this crime head in Jammu & Kashmir during the year 2011.
Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act
A decrease of 49.4 per cent was noticed in this crime head during the year 2011 as compared to the previous year (895 cases). Andhra Pradesh with 314 cases has accounted for 69.3 per cent of total such cases at the national level which has also reported the highest crime rate of 0.4.
Dowry Prohibition Act
The cases under this Act have increased by 27.7 per cent during the year 2011 as compared to the previous year (5,182 cases). 28.7 per cent of cases were reported from Andhra Pradesh (1,899) followed by Karnataka (1210 cases) accounting for 18.3 per cent of total cases at the national level. The highest crime rate of 2.5 was reported from Odisha as compared to 0.5 at the national level.
Crime against Women in Cities
53 cities having population over 10 lakh (See Chapter-2) have been identified as Mega cities as per population census 2011. A total of 33,789 cases of crimes against women were reported from these 53 cities during the year 2011 as compared to 24,335 cases(35 mega cities) in the year 2010. The rate of crime in cities at 21.0 was comparatively higher as compared to the national rate of 18.9. Among 53 cities, Delhi (4,489 cases) has accounted for 13.3 per cent of total such crimes followed by Bengaluru (1,890 cases)(5.6 per cent), Hyderabad (1,860 cases) (5.5 per cent) and Vijayawada (1,797 cases) (5.3 per cent). The crime rate was significantly higher in Vijayawada, Kota, Kollam, Jaipur and Asansol at 120.5, 57.5, 54.2, 48.6, and 48.2 respectively as compared to average of mega cities at 21.0.
Delhi city has accounted for 17.6 per cent of Rape cases, 31.8 per cent of kidnapping & abduction cases, 14.0 per cent of dowry deaths and 10.1 per cent of molestation cases among 53 cities. Hyderabad has reported 12.2 per cent (1,390 cases) of incidences of cruelty by husband and relatives. Vijayawada has reported 18.0 per cent incidence of eve-teasing. Indore and Jabalpur having 3 cases and 2 cases respectively, have altogether contributed 83.3 per cent of total cases of ‘Importation of Girls’ at all India level.
It is worthwhile to mention that Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Patna have booked more cases under Special & Local Laws among the mega cities. 15.5 per cent (191 out of 1,234) of cases under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and 10.1 per cent (553 out of 5501) of cases under molestation was reported in Mumbai alone. Similarly, 56.0 per cent (42) and 34.7 per cent(26) of 75 cases of indecent representation of Women Act was reported in Jaipur and Jodhpur respectively. 70.7 per cent (605) cases under Dowry Prohibition Act during the year 2011 was registered in Bengaluru city alone.
(Source: NCRB’s book, Crime In India)
The object of the implementation of law is to prevent and deter criminals. The idea is to instill the fear of the law and the police and courts, and not to make them look like helpless agencies. The incident of an Aaj Tak female correspondent being eve teased right in front of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences while she was covering the issue of gang rape, shows that even so much of media coverage, public anger and protests have not acted as a deterrent factor.
Even as the law takes its course the girl’s condition is still critical and is worsening. She had been put back on ventilator support after showing some initial improvement signs. Another innocent life has been scarred and all we are doing is making promises which have been made rape after rape.
Fast-track courts needed
In addition, we need to put in place fast-track courts, as has been done in Rajasthan for similar cases of gang rape, which will lend credence to the working of the system and hopefully put the fear of God in aggressors.
Speed in disposal is another hallmark of a successful system. Not only must the system exist but it must be shown to exist. We need convictions, we need punishments, we need to catch not only the direct perpetrators but also take action against the conspirators. Only then can we hope to send a strong message that such crimes would not be tolerated by our society.
With the promise of the Home Minister and the Chief Minister of Delhi of the gang rape case being tried on fast-track basis and action where lapses are found on part of the police and the approval of setting-up of five fast-track courts for tackling rape cases in the city by the Delhi High Court, while taking suo motu cognisance of the shocking case, it will be left to see, how long we take to institutionalise the system of fast track disposal of cases when such crimes take place against women.
For Delhi, it is about managing such crimes when it has open and porous borders with the neighbouring states. We want a mechanism whereby we can install safeguards to protect our citizens and ensure that people are not able to get away after committing crime.
Support of the People
In as much as the law implementing agencies are responsible for perpetuating the crime, we the people are also responsible. If a bystander or a passerby has the courage and the motivation to help a victim or report the same at the earliest, it will be a very big deterrent factor. Tomorrow, it can be our daughter or sister or a known relative. We need to instill and build consideration, we need to stand up in one voice against such culprits and make them realise that such barbaric acts will be replied to there and then, only then can we overpower the mentality of a remorseless criminal.
Even though late, but today is the time to stand united and make Delhi and our nation a safe place for our own people and to punish the accused in a way which creates the fear of the law and the people in a criminal’s mind. It’s time to act and not debate. It’s time for enforcement and implementation and not for promises. It’s time to realise that such incidents will keep happening day after day, if not stopped today.
By Pinky Anand
(The author is senior advocate, Supreme Court)