Highlights of the present Bill

  • It provides for stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
  • The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
  • In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts’ “natural life”.
  • The punishment for gang rape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict, another official said.
  • Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence. Gang rape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.
  • The measure also provides for speedy investigations and trial. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.
  • The deadline for the completion of trial in all rape cases will be two months. A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.
  • There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl less than 16 years.
  • It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl fewer than 16 years of age.

Need for a stringent law

  • The number of reported cases of rapes of children increased in India by 82% in 2016 compared to 2015.
  • A climate of violence, social and economic insecurity, alienation, and a progressive undermining of the status of women and children seem to have given an impetus to carry out crimes against women and children.
  • Therefore, the legal system must give a clear signal that we as a nation consider the rape of children below the age of 12 as among the most heinous of offences.

Is it sufficient to curb present crimes?

  • Statistics have not been able to prove or disprove the efficacy of capital punishment as a deterrent.
  • While the U.K. has seen an increase in murders since 1965 when capital punishment for murder was removed from the statute book, Canada has not seen any such impact since it abolished the death penalty in 1976.
  • The underlying socio-economic conditions in a society that cause crimes seem to have as much of an impact on the increase or decrease of crimes as the law does.
  • The uses of alcoholic and narcotic substances have increased the frequency of heinous crimes.

Loopholes in the laws against crimes in India

  • Inadequate Legal Structure with change in nature of crimes.
  • Difficulties in Obtaining Proof and use of non-scientific enquiries.
  • Inadequate legal backing for witness.
  • Lack of Resources & Training.
  • Inadequate number of courts at lower levels.
  • Lack of Co-ordination between state and centre.
  • Problems of coordination in the government.
  • Civic engagement is not conducive for a people friendly law and order management.

Issues with in the Indian judicial system

  • The pendency of cases. It eroded the faith in the criminal justice system. Similar to justice delayed is justice denied.
  • Corruption prevails right from the lower level to top.
  • Lack of transparency (particularly in the appointment of judges).
  • Under trials of the accused.
  • Lack of accountability in carry out criminal investigations against serving justices.
  • Lack of information and interaction among people and courts.

Why reform of criminal justice system is necessary?

  • As per the latest figures there is a pendency of more than three crore cases out of which almost two crore cases are criminal cases. The arrears have a tendency to compound each year and could, if uncorrected, lead to the collapse of the judicial system.
  • Besides, criminal Law of India is a replica of colonial times. It is hostile to the poor and the weaker sections of society.
  • Also, the way criminal justice is designed and administered today hardly serves any of the purposes for which it is set up: towards securing life and property
  • It does not deter criminals because of the delay and uncertainties involved in its processes and ridiculously ineffective punishments it imposes on those few who get convicted.
  • It provides wide discretion to the police and the prosecution, rendering the system vulnerable to corruption and manipulation and endangering basic rights of innocent citizens.
  • It ignores the real victim, often compelling him/her to find extra-legal methods of getting justice.
  • It also puts heavy economic costs on the state for its maintenance without commensurate benefits in return.
  • Also, more than 30 million criminal cases are still pending in the system. And another 10 million or more cases are being added every year
  • Recent initiatives: Supreme Court is ready to go live on camera while the government mooted a separate TV channel for live-streaming court proceedings.

Way forward

  • Modern organized crime constitutes a global challenge that must be met with a concerted, global response.
  • The police department has to been given a free hand to deal effectively with troublemakers.
  • Most importantly no politician should give patronage to the criminals in lieu of money or power.
  • Most of the crimes are communicated through wires or internet; thus, the cyber security needs to be strict and under continuous surveillance.
  • The government should introduce hi-tech software and machineries in order to keep a track on the high alert areas.