At a time when the government wants to have a foolproof system to ensure the safety of children, the numbers are painting a dismal picture. The national crime report for the year 2013, released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has shown that four children were raped in Maharashtra every day. Besides this, there has also been an increase in crimes being recorded against children in the state.
Maharashtra has the country’s highest percentage 21.9 of pending cases of crimes against children, as a ratio of total pending criminal cases in the state. Pic/Thinkstock
According to the NCRB report, a total of 1,546 rape cases of minors were registered in 2013 – an average of four per day. There were 191 child murders, and there has also been an increase in the number of children kidnapped in the state in 2013. What’s worse, these cases are not being cleared quickly, leading to the state recording the second highest number of cases pending under trial.
“Cases of kidnapping have increased because, after a recent Supreme Court order, we have started treating cases of missing children also under kidnapping, until proved otherwise. In fact, thanks to awareness in the society, more and more cases are being reported now,” said K L Bishnoi, additional director general of police (law & order).
He added that the state has taken a conscious decision over the past couple of years to ensure that all cases of crime against children and women should first be registered, and then inquiry should be conducted.
“We are very happy that there have been no cases of police burking any case in this report,” added Bishnoi.
However, the state hasn’t been very prompt in providing justice to those who mustered the courage to go to the cops. According to the report, at the beginning of 2013, Maharashtra had a total of 30,666 cases under trial, including those from the previous year.
Sadly, by the end of the year, 29,126 cases were still pending in various courts. In 2012, the figure of total cases stood at 19,083 and pending cases by the end of that year were 18,007.
The percentage of pending cases of crime against children as a comparison with the total pending criminal cases, is the highest as compared to any other state at 21.9 per cent. “Crime is directly related to the population of the state and the two states with the highest number of cases registered and pending are highly populated states. This can’t be the right point of comparison.
Neither can we control the court proceedings. But, we are ensuring that all cases are registered,” added Bishnoi. He also said the only solution would be setting up more fast track courts for hearing cases of crime against children.
Experts called for better implementation of the law. Nishit Kumar, head of communications and strategic initiatives, of the NGO Childline India Foundation, said, “The children sector is among the most neglected in our country. Whilst India signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1992, we are a far cry from protecting our children.
Take the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which was enacted in November 2012. But, we neither have child- friendly police stations, nor is our POCSO court child-friendly — which, by the way, is part of the rules of the very Act. This shows how miserably it is being implemented.”
In order to bring down the number of pending cases, Bishnoi added that changes would be implemented soon. “We will demand for the state to set up more fast-track courts to ensure speedy trials and also the appoint more judicial officers,” he said.
Child rights commission says
When mid-day contacted the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR), its secretary, A N Tripathi, stated that there is a shortage of judicial officers in the state.
“While there is a need for more officials in the department, MSCPCR is doing everything in its power to ensure that cases of crime against children are cleared and orders released within three months,” said Tripathi.
He added that thanks to the increased awareness, more and more parents are taking the initiative to report cases with the police as well as the commission.