'25 fast track courts should handle crimes against women in state'

Amid the high-tension atmosphere of pouring rage against sexual crimes, the home ministry has insisted that 25 of the state’s 100 fast track courts be dedicated exclusively for handling cases of crimes against women. 

Wake-up call: Young women hold placards as they shout anti-government slogans during a protest calling for better safety for women following the gang rape of a 23-year-old girl in the Capital. Pic/AFP

“We made the demand during Monday night’s review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,” home minister RR Patil told MiD DAY.

The meeting focussed on women’s safety and the state’s preparedness to handle any kind of public outrage over atrocities against women, especially in Mumbai and other big cities in the state. It was attended by senior government officials, director general of police, Mumbai police commissioner and other top cops.

“The state has 100 fast track courts to deal with cases of corruption and crimes of grave nature. Of these, 25 can be reserved for handling cases of crimes against women,” Patil said. “Also, the state police will soon form special squads comprising plainclothes policemen to keep vigil at public places. Crowded places such as shopping malls, public transport vehicles (buses), colleges and other institutions will be asked to install a CCTV network in and around their establishments to keep an eye on lumpen elements,” Patil said.

Patil also said the procedure to alter laws to make them snare-tight has been set in motion. “We have also started the process to introduce amendments in Indian Penal Code sections 354 and 509 that deal with sexual harassment,” Patil said.

“Of the 82 recommendations made by the Justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari committee, 67 have been partially accepted even as the committee is yet to submit its final report to the government, which is expected within four months.”

Patil added, “The government is making all-out efforts to control such crimes. The state has seen a 1.5% dip in cases of crimes against women in recent times,” Patil said.

A senior police official is believed to have voiced his concern about the involvement of youth in assaults on women.

“In most crimes against women, youngsters have a high participation. And if we make arrests in such cases, we get criticised for arresting young boys. During the arguments and counter arguments, nobody comes forward to take our side,” he reportedly said during the meeting.

2011 stats: Room for improvement?
Of the 24,206 rape cases of rape reported in the country, Maharashtra accounted for 1,701, or some 7%. The figure may not seem alarming at first, but once you consider that the state houses a mere 9.3% of the country’s population, the figure is definitely nothing to be proud of.

Having said that, Maharashtra still ranks 24 among all the states in the country when it comes to reported rape cases.

Atrocities against women
Of the 2,28,650 reported cases in India in 2011, the state accounts for 15,728 (6.9%). 
State’s crime rank: 18 

Dowry deaths
With 339 cases of dowry deaths in Maharashtra last year, the state accounts for 3.93% of all such cases reported in the country. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest such cases (2,322), followed by Bihar (1,413).
State’s crime rank: 17  

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