Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Ghosh
Law and order seems to have taken a backseat in Uttar Pradesh (UP) as another gang rape was reported within 20 days of the first incident of alleged gang rape and murders of two cousins. However, the trauma of rape victims does not end even after the cases are lodged by the police. Data shows that the pendency of cases in court adds to the mental trauma of rape survivors as they are denied justice in the form of delays.
Despite huge promises, the Akhilesh Yadav government has failed to maintain the safety quotient for women in the State presenting an embarrassing picture across the world. Moreover, while fast track courts have been set up across the country after the Nirbhaya rape tragedy in December 2012, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has been slow to react. He set up a fast track court in the Badaun rape case recently only after a national furore over the issue.
This lenient approach of UP government has even drawn huge criticism from United Nations. On June 5, 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticised the statements of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh in an oblique reference, saying: “We say no to the dismissive, destructive attitude of ‘boys will be boys.”
Last week, the country’s most populous state reported five rape cases in 36 hours.
While the increasing rape cases are resulting into immense public outrage, a deeper dig into our justice system shows a grim reality of procedural infirmities and overburdened courts.
After the gruesome Delhi gang rape, the government set up 73 fast-track courts across the country to the try cases of sexual violence against women as per provisions mentioned in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
These were among 1,800 fast-track courts the authorities plan to set up and run for three years, focusing on violent crimes and other serious offences against women, children and the elderly, as part of broader judicial reforms.
However, The Wall Street Journal report on Delhi’s prosecution agency says that the six fast track courts managed a rate of only 32 per cent till June 2013. They undertook a total of 299 trials in this period, of which 95 led to convictions. In comparison, of the 547 rape cases that Delhi’s regular courts tried and issued judgments on in 2012, as many as 204 led to convictions, a rate of 37 per cent.
According to National Crime Records Bureau report (2012), more than 85 per cent of the rape cases are awaiting trial in court. The report further shows that trial pendency in court over rape cases has been growing over the years.
While 83.6 per cent rape cases were awaiting trial in 2011, the figure visibly grew to 85.1 per cent in 2012. The report laments that rate of conviction in rape cases is also very low.
In 2012, conviction on rape cases at the court level was reported at 3.5 per cent, a fall of 1.8 per cent from the previous year. Furthermore, the investigation of rape cases at the police level too did not show a picture, as per the NCRB report.
While 63.9 per cent of the rape cases were investigated at the police level in 2012, chargesheet was filed merely on 56.7 per cent rape cases during 2012.