RS MP moves bill to deal with lynching, vigilantism

Rejecting government argument that existing laws are enough to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, a Rajya Sabha MP has now sought amendments to the penal code to provide stricter punishments for such crimes.

Congress MP from Maharashtra Husain Dalwai has moved a private member’s bill — The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2017 — last week saying there can be “no culture of state indifference or impunity” in cases where a particular community becomes the target.

Ministry of State for Home Hansraj Ahir on July 19 told Rajya Sabha that there are no plans to amend the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and IPC or bring a new law to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism. He said existing laws are sufficient to deal with murder committed by “one person or ten persons”.

husain-dalwai

However, Dalwai disagrees and said there is a need to define hate crimes and vigilantism due to the “alarming rise” in attacks which are motivated by bias or prejudice due to religion, caste, choice of attire or eating. The bill envisages an imprisonment of up to five years for those involved in such crimes and life imprisonment in case there is death.

“Such attacks are either driven by an ideology in which case it takes the shape of a hate crime or it is driven by an urge to take the law in their own hands and punish the victims on mere suspicion of an offence have been committed,” the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said.

It said hate crimes as well as vigilantism are treated as offences in many countries, attracting even stricter punishment than ordinary crimes because they “tend to offend public tranquillity, create a feeling of disharmony and undermine the faith of people” in law and justice machinery.

“There can be no culture of state indifference or impunity in such cases as they speak of a larger malaise rather than one-off and disconcerted incidents,” it said.

The Opposition parties have raised pitch over cow vigilantism in both Houses of Parliament in the ongoing Monsoon session, accusing the BJP-led government of encouraging organisations behind the violence by cow vigilantes.

A series of incidents involving cow vigilantes had rocked the country in the past couple of years with opposition leaders saying there were at least 50 such incidents in the recent past.

On its part, the BJP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly come out strongly against such acts.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 7, 2017)

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2016: Rape, abduction cases on rise, dowry deaths show decline

After a fall in 2015, the crimes against women has witnessed a rise last year in the country with rape cases registering almost 11% increase.

According to provisional figures, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that there were 3.51 lakh crimes reported against women in 2016 as against 3.31 lakh in the previous year.

Though the final figures for last year is yet to come, what may be a matter of concern for law enforcement agencies is the rise in numbers in 2016.

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Crime Against Women
2014 – 3,40,826
2015 – 3,31,649
2016 – 3,51,948

Rape
2014 – 36,735
2015 – 34,651
2016 – 38,891

Kidnapping/Abduction
2014 – 57,311
2015 – 59,277
2016 – 64,618

The year 2015 saw a dip from 3.40 lakh cases in 2014 and 3.37 lakh in 2013. Last year’s figures has surpassed the that of the past three years.

One of the worrying signs would be the increase in cases of rapes, attempt to rapes and abductions.

Among the states, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest cases at 48,757 followed by West Bengal (34,205) and Maharashtra (31,308). Karnataka reported 14,250 crimes against women last year as against 13,993 in 2014 and 12,786 in 2015.

The figures the MHA placed in Parliament last week showed that there were 38,891 cases of rape reported last year compared to 34,651 in 2015, registering a rise of 10.90%. There were 36,735 rape cases in the country in 2014.

Similarly, the attempt to rape cases also rose from 4,234 in 2014 to 5,719 last year. Kidnapping and abduction of women rose by 12.74% to 64,618 compared to 2014’s 57,311. In 2015, there were 59,277 cases.

Acid attacks also saw an increase from 134 reported in 2014 and 140 in 2015 to 167 last year.

Bulk of the cases relating to crime against women was registered under the head cruelty by husband or his relatives. Last year saw 1.10 lakh such cases, a decrease from 1.13 lakh cases in 2015 and 1.22 lakh in 2014.

Also, there was a slight decrease in dowry deaths — from 8,455 in 2014 and 7,634 in 2015 to 7,623 in 2016.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 7, 2017)

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