In Gujarat And W.Bengal, Just 3% Of Those Charged With Crimes Against Women Get Convicted
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While crimes against women are worryingly on the rise in India, an often neglected aspect of this is that conviction rate of those charged with such crimes is only about 19%. That means – only one in five persons finally gets convicted by courts. Four out of five go free.
Conviction rate is the proportion of cases that ended in conviction to total cases of crimes against women that went to trial in one year.
Eight big states and three Union Territories have the dubious distinction of having conviction rates in single digits in cases of crimes against women. The lowest conviction rate of about 3% is in West Bengal and Gujarat among big states. They are followed by J&K, Karnataka, Odisha, Assam, and Andhra Pradesh all with less than 10% conviction rate. Two Union Territories – Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep had no conviction so their rate is zero.
What does a conviction rate signify? It is rare for a woman to lodge false cases against an accused alleging rape or assault. So, it is safe to assume that at the very least, some crime was committed against the complainant woman. After that, it is a matter of investigation by the police and finally the court’s consideration. It is in these two stages that slips occur.
Either the police investigation is flawed or worse, compromised, as has been alleged incessantly in many cases. Or the court errs in some technical or legal consideration. There is much more probability of the police messing up or deliberately ignoring evidence, legal experts think. Also, pressure may be exercised on the complainant woman to change her testimony – and she would be much more vulnerable to it. Families often back down in pursuing cases and pressurize women victims to do the same.
In sum, there are a hundred ways in which the case is made to fall apart. And hence, no conviction happens and the criminals go free.
Since the whole process is under the jurisdiction of State govt. it is their responsibility to tighten up investigations, protect complainants, ensure speedy and effective trials and thus deliver justice. States with abysmally low conviction rates are obviously failing in these duties.
Another aspect that emerges from NCRB data is that pendency of cases is high. Of course, no case is going to be disposed off in one year. But year after year maintaining an over 90% pendency rate is direct evidence of overloaded and slow moving judicial process. There were a jaw-dropping 12.05 lakh cases pending at the end of 2016 even after courts had disposed off 1.37 lakh cases during the year. This gives an idea of how long it may take for a case to get finalised and the harrowing time for the victim.
The net result of low conviction rates and high pendency (more time) is that justice is delayed and often denied. It is this that causes impunity to arise among the criminals and it is small wonder that crimes against women are increasing every year.
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