Rising incidents of child rape & a growing perception of slack law enforcement spurred the Supreme Court to suo motu register a PIL & take it up for hearing on Friday to attempt to shape a concerted & clear national response displaying ‘zero tolerance’ towards sexual assault of children.
Disturbed by a clutch of media reports on recurring incidents of sexual assault on children of all ages, including infants, CJI Ranjan Gogoi on July 1 asked the registry to submit a report on two aspects —number of such cases registered across India since January 1, stages of investigation & time taken to file a chargesheet; & pendency in trial courts.
Data collected through all high courts & compiled by the registry reveal a depressing picture about the law lacking a deterrent effect on offenders. The registry’s report, accompanying the collated data sheet, said the CJI had rightly concluded on the “need for intervention in shaping concerted, persistent & clear national response, displaying ‘zero tolerance’ for such abhorrent & horrifying behaviour towards our children, by the criminal justice administration & its constituents in India”.
From January 1 to June 30 this year, as many as 24,212 FIRs were registered by police across India on incidents of child rape. Of these, 11,981 are still under investigation, while in 12,231 cases, police have filed chargesheet. But trial has commenced only in 6,449 cases while it is yet to commence in 4,871 cases. Trial courts have decided only 911 cases, or just 4% of the total cases.
Uttar Pradesh tops the list with police registering FIRs in 3,457 incidents of child sexual abuse. More than 50% of cases, or 1,779 FIRs, are still under investigation. Madhya Pradesh police recorded a dubious second with 2,389 such incidents but appeared prompt in investigation by filing chargesheet in 1,841 cases & trial courts completing trial in 247 cases.
Other states where police recorded large number of child rape incidents are Rajasthan 1,992; Maharashtra 1,940; West Bengal 1,551; Chhattisgarh 1,285; Karnataka 1,133; Gujarat 1,124; Tamil Nadu 1,043; Kerala 1,012; Odisha 1,005; Telangana 928; & Assam 904. Nagaland recorded the lowest number of child sexual abuse cases at nine.
While placing analysis of the data before the CJI, the registry’s report said, “Recent reports in both national & international media have sought to highlight an alarming rise in the number of reported child-rape incidents which, the media reports have claimed, suggest that somewhere the deterrent effect of laws & their effective enforcement, to prosecute offenders accused of child-rape, appear to be missing in the scheme of criminal justice administration.”
A bench of CJI Gogoi & Justices Deepak Gupta & Aniruddha Bose will take up the suo motu PIL on Friday.