While the number of FIRs registered in rape cases in Chandigarh is rising, the rate of conviction has declined in recent years. Police attribute this to the spreading awareness among rape victims and their readiness to take the help of law and register a case. Since 2012, the number of cases registered under Section 376 of IPC has doubled. The precise numbers are 27 in 2012, 45 in 2013 and 54 until October 31 in the current year.
On the other hand, the rate of conviction has decreased drastically from 37.5 per cent in 2013 to 14.28 per cent in 2014. This has happened in spite of the setting up of special courts to facilitate expeditious trial and amendments in law to make them women-friendly.
Chandigarh SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill said that most cases fall flat as the witness turns hostile in the court. “On perusal of many judgments, we found that the victims had turned hostile. We try to keep in touch with the complainants until they are examined, but the statements are recorded in camera and what can we do if they turn hostile?” said the SSP.
Advocate Rabindra Pandit, a criminal lawyer, said, “Since the criminal law was amended widening the denfinition of rape, the number of case has been rising. It has also become an easy tool to malign reputations. Many cases coming these days are fake and the accused pays a hefty sum to the complainant to get acquitted.’”
Recently, a local court acquitted five constables of the Chandigarh police on charges of gangrape after the minor girl, who had lodged the complaint, retracted from her allegations. The constables, who were dismissed from service, have not yet been reinstated.
Earlier, Dr Lalit Vermani, a former District Health Officer of Panchkula, was acquitted when the woman who had accused him of rape turned hostile during the hearing. The woman had approached the police on her own and alleged that the doctor had taken her to a hotel on the pretext of arranging a job, drugged her and then raped her.
Interestingly, neither the dismissed constables nor Dr Vermani has sued the complainats for causing them so much suffering and defamation by lodging a false case. Nor has the court ordered prosecution of the complainants on the charge of perjury for going back on their statements.
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