Low conviction rate in crimes against women matter of concern: Minister

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Low conviction rates in crimes against women is a matter of grave concern, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said on Monday said, calling for prompt judicial disposal of such cases as a deterrent.

“While laws can be made more harsh, swift disposal by criminal justice system can only check the crimes and also act as a deterrent to prevent its recurrence. The low conviction rates, however, continue to be a matter of grave concern,” he said while addressing the inaugural session of the National Conference on “Gender Justice in Criminal Law” organised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).

Ahir said the government, responding to public sentiment, recently issued ordinance regarding amendment to Article 376 of Indian Penal Code making provision for stricter punishment to deal with crimes against women.

Stating that Centre is sensitive to women’s safety, he said the law was last amended after the horrific Nirbhaya incident but since the society at large was outraged over the recent spate of sexual crimes against minors, the government has introduced harsher punishment including capital punishment to deal with such offences.

Ahir said the government has also set stiff timeframe for investigation and swift disposal of cases by fast track courts.

“Under the police modernisation programme, the government has laid emphasis on improving the forensic laboratories and improve efficiency of prosecution agencies.”

BPR&D Director General A.P. Maheshwari said “the recommendations arrived at the conclusion of the daylong conference will be placed before the government on how to effectively deal with crimes against women and minors”.

In his address, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Director Ish Kumar said the NCRB is in the process of creating a national registry of crimes against women. “The records are being sourced from the CCTNS and an agency is being hired to prepare the database. The crime rate per lakh population in India is very low at 7-8 per cent, as compared to 27-30 per cent in the US and 132 in South Africa.”

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