‘Minors are maturing fast and also factoring in the gravity of offences’

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar on Friday advocated reduction of juvenile age from 18 years to 16 amid an ongoing debate on the issue of juvenile offenders triggered by the involvement of a minor accused in the barbaric gang-rape and murder of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student.

“We are of the view that the age of juvenile should be reduced to 16 years,” said Mr. Kumar at the annual conference of the Delhi Police. He said given the fact that minors are maturing fast and also factoring in the gravity of offences being perpetrated by them -- as witnessed in the case of a recently busted burglary-and-arson gang of minors and the Khooni Darwaza gang-rape case in 2002,-- legal age of a juvenile delinquent should be reduced to 16 years.

Police statistics have revealed that 1,240 juvenile allegedly in conflict with law were apprehended last year compared to 942 in 2011. While crimes involving juveniles, primarily adolescents, are a matter of serious concern for the police, another indicator to a spurt in propensity to commit crime is the increase in the involvement of first-timer adults in cases of murder (50 in 2011 to 76 in 2012), attempted murder (53 to 120) and rape (8 to 17).

Sharing crime data, Mr. Kumar said a total of 54,287 Indian Penal Code cases were registered last year. Statistically there has been a marginal increase of 1.75 per cent in such cases last year, as also a slight increase in terms of IPC crimes per lakh population compared to 2011. The most disturbing trend has been 10.64 per cent rise in cases of heinous nature from 2,171 to 2,402.

While rape cases recorded a 23.43 per cent increase from 572 to 706 and molestation of women from 657 to 727, attempt-to-murders, robbers, riots, abduction and burglary also recorded an increase last year. There was a significant rise in extortion cases from 101 to 136. However, according to the police, cases of murder, dacoity, snatching, kidnapping-for-ransom and vehicle theft saw a decline. The detection rate in IPC cases stood at 53.15 per cent, while the police claimed to have solved 89.47 per cent of the heinous cases last year. There was a relatively low detection of abduction, kidnapping, snatching, burglary and theft cases, particularly vehicle thefts that accounted for 26.51 per cent of the total IPC cases (19.78 per cent detection).

“An analysis of motives behind murder cases reveals that in 20.54 per cent of them were committed due to sudden provocation or on petty issues, 12.86 per cent due to old enmity, 14.59 per cent were sex related, 10.94 per cent due to differences among family members and 8.83 per cent were due to property/money disputes. Only 13.82 per cent murder cases were crime related,” said Mr. Kumar.

During 2012, the Special Cell claims to have arrested 14 terrorists of the Indian Mujahideen, three of Lashkar-e-Taiba, one member each of People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, Kangleikpak Community Party, Khalistan Commando Force, Babbar Khalsa International, People’s War Group and the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The Crime Branch arrested 1,775 criminals, including 54 foreigners, compared to 781 in 2011. The most important detection was by the Economic Offences Wing of the Stock Guru marketing network scam in which husband-wife duo Ullas Prabhakar Khaire and Raksha J. Urs were arrested for allegedly cheating about 2 lakh investors of Rs.500 crore.

The Police Commissioner said owing to a sustained drive against traffic rule violations -- particularly drunken driving and over-speeding, deaths in road accidents went down significantly hitting an all-time low of 1,786 last year from 2,066 in 2011.

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