Sexual offence cases not being probed in stipulated time: Report

Designated fast-track courts are handling other criminal cases too leading to delay in verdicts

Updated - July 15, 2019 08:17 am IST

Published - July 14, 2019 10:51 pm IST - New Delhi

 A file photo at a protest march in New Delhi.

A file photo at a protest march in New Delhi.

Investigation into nearly half the sexual offences cases are not being completed within the stipulated 60-day period, according to an analysis of crime data of seven States accessed by The Hindu.

In many States, the fast-track courts designated to handle rape cases are also handling other criminal cases leading to delay in verdicts, an official said. As per the government data, there are already 664 dedicated special courts with 2,021 public prosecutors and another 1,023 courts are planned.

The Supreme Court noted last week that trial had been completed in only 4% of the 24,000 cases of sexual offences that were filed from January to June.

In February, the Home Ministry launched an analytics tool — Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) to monitor and track time-bound investigation. It is part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) that connects over 15,000 police stations across the country.

 

According to the ITSSO analysis in the seven States — Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh. Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand — final reports were submitted only in 26,343 of the 47,662 sexual assault cases within the mandatory period. The cases analysed were filed from April 21, 2018 to February 13, 2019.

In Uttar Pradesh, 592 of the 3,420 pending cases were pending for more than six months. In Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the cases where the final report was not submitted by police for more than six months was in 122, 236, 155 and 606 cases respectively.

To check sexual crimes against women and children, the Centre approved the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 last year which prescribed the time-limit for completion of investigation. The law was initially promulgated as an Ordinance on April 21, 2018 following an outcry over the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of a woman in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh DGP O.P Singh told The Hindu that cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) were being evaluated and reviewed and they were focussing on 180 “priority cases” where they expected conviction within a month.

“We have prioritised 180 cases, we are calling the witnesses, getting the forensic tests done fast etc. But the trial courts are taking time. Some of the districts do not have separate fast-track courts though they have been identified as one. They are also discharging duties other than cases registered under the POCSO,” said Mr. Singh.

As the government plans to set up more courts, it will have to address lacunae like special courts handling other criminal cases apart from sexual offences.

The Empowered Committee on the Nirbhaya Fund approved ₹767.25 crore for setting up 1,023 fast-track courts in November last year, but 10 months later the final nod from the Expenditure Finance Committee is awaited.

Sources in the Ministry of Women and Child Development say 18 States have come on board to set up the new courts and it is now up to the Law and Justice Ministry to appoint judges and public prosecutors for them.

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