While sentencing a rapist who sought leniency on the ground that he was in an intoxicated condition and did not know that he was committing a crime, a Sessions court here has asked the Delhi Government to revisit its liquor policy in view of the number of sexual offences committed by those addicted to alcohol and narcotic drugs.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said: “It has to be acknowledged that there is a definite link between the consumption of alcohol particularly caffeinated alcohol (substance abuse) and rise in crime including those relating to aggressive sexual behaviour and the State cannot shy away from its responsibility. The situation in India is still emerging and substance abuse is common in slum clusters in all urban localities. Most violent crimes, including crimes of sexual nature, have witnessed concomitant substance abuse (consumption of alcohol doped with nicotine, caffeine or other substances which is much more dangerous than alcohol abuse alone).”

The convict, Tara Chand, who will now serve a life term in prison, was the 13-year-old minor victim’s aunt’s husband. The victim’s father had helped him find a job as a cook in a hotel and even allowed him to stay in their one-room tenement. The father and the rapist would consume alcohol together and the former would pass out. The victim’s mother suffered from chronic depression and would take sleeping pills. At night, Tara Chand would take the girl out of the house and then rape her. She complained to her mother about the abuse once but it was not taken seriously. After she was hospitalised with stomach pain, the parents were shocked to realise that their daughter was pregnant and then lodged a case against Tara Chand.

Ms. Lau added: “The issue relating to alcohol consumption does not appear to be high on the priority of the State and perhaps it is for this reason that manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol falls within the direct purview and jurisdiction of Department of Industries whereas the Food & Drugs Department or even the Home Department appears to be having nothing or very little to do with the same and this, I am pained to observe, is despite all serious concerns being raised regarding health, safety and security of the citizens.”

While admitting that neither the Government nor the court can indulge in moral policing, the Judge said that substance abuse was an issue in which the life, liberty, safety and security of individuals was affected by the abuse of freedom by a section of the population. “The State is obligated, when the health, safety and security of the citizens is on the line, to pass laws and regulations that protect them. The right of a citizen is not to have drugs but the right is to be protected from harmful effects of substances. Governments would be derelict in their duties if they do not act to remove such harmful substances from the society. Interestingly, though the constitutional mandate (Article 47 of Constitution) provides that the endeavour of the State is to bring about prohibition of the consumption, only four States - Gujarat, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland - prohibit manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol whereas all other Indian States permit this.”

The court also asked the Delhi Government to provide Rs.1 lakh as compensation to the victim for her rehabilitation.

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