Even as protests over the December 16 gang rape in the capital are tapering off, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home on Thursday grilled Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar on the growing atrocities against women.
While pointing out that unfilled vacancies at the level of officers and lack of enough vehicles to patrol the streets added to the deficiencies in policing the megapolis, the panel sought a response from the Union Home Ministry. The Delhi police force is under its direct control.
Home Secretary R K Singh, who was also to appear before the panel, could not attend the meeting.
Mr. Kumar narrated the sequence of events on the night of December 16 and said the police control room responded promptly after receiving a phone call about the rape of the 23-year old paramedic aboard a bus.
Congress member Sandeep Dikshit, son of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, is learnt to have pointed out that there was a disconnect between police officers sitting inside rooms and those on the ground. He, along with his mother, has been demanding the removal of the police chief for failing to check crimes against women.
When the panel discussed paucity of women constables, Mr. Kumar assured it that more of them would be recruited in the force.
When the committee meets again on January 4, the police chief would provide a written response to questions which could not be answered on Thursday.
Committee chairman and BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu informed the members that the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha in the winter session, would be referred to the panel soon.
The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, by replacing the word “rape” with “sexual assault.” This is to make the offence of sexual assault gender neutral and also expand its scope. The Bill also seeks to make acid attack a specific offence and enhance the punishment.