In the aftermath of the gang rape in Mumbai, the Supreme Court on Monday expressed serious concern that 90 per cent of the rape cases ended in acquittal and wondered what was wrong with India’s criminal justice system.

“The situation is going from bad to worse,” a Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Madan B. Lokur said, hearing a writ petition filed by the father of a 15-year-old schoolgirl who was gang-raped by three persons in Haryana in August last. The petition sought compensation and a directive for her rehabilitation.

Scope expanded

Expanding the scope of the petition, the Bench issued notice to the Chief Secretaries of all the States and the administrators of the Union Territories, seeking their response in eight weeks on rehabilitation schemes for victims.

Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the Haryana victim’s father, said the accused got the support of the police and the khap panchayat, and when the girl filed an FIR, she was socially boycotted and asked to leave her village.

Justice Lodha said: “We find 90 per cent of these [rape] cases end in acquittals.”

The Bench asked the petitioner to amend the petition in two weeks by impleading all the States and the Union Territories and ordered notice to them.

Sense of impunity

The petition, which highlighted the trauma of the girl, said a large number of such rapes occurred in Haryana, the victims belonging to the backward classes. It said the brazenness and frequency of the crime indicated that in Haryana “there is a sense of impunity among certain male sections and a feeling that rape will go unpunished. There is a clear breakdown of the criminal justice system and complete denial of protection to women, especially those belonging to the Dalit class.”

In Haryana case, court orders notice to States

“We find 90 per cent of these [rape] cases end in acquittals,” Justice R.M. Lodha observed on Monday, while hearing a plea for rehabilitation of a Haryana gang rape victim.

The Supreme Court Bench, which included Madan B. Lokur, asked the petitioner — the father of the 15-year-old girl who was gang-raped by three persons in August last — to amend his petition in two weeks by impleading all States and Union Territories. It also ordered notice to them, asking them to list rehabilitation schemes executed for the victims.

The petition said a large number of such rapes occurred in Haryana, the victims belonging to the backward classes. It said the frequency of the crime indicated that in Haryana “there is a sense of impunity among certain male sections and a feeling that rape will go unpunished.”

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