In his Independence Day speech earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned a case in Katni, in Madhya Pradesh, where “rapists… were sentenced to death after just five days of trial”. “More such news gets published, the more such people with demonic mentality will get scared. We have to publicise such news. People should know that rapists are being sent to the gallows,” he said.
Modi was referring to the case of Rajkumar Kol, a 34-year-old auto rickshaw driver, who was sentenced to death on July 27 for raping a minor on July 4. Kol was arrested on July 7, and a chargesheet filed on July 18.
In fact, over the last six months, different courts across the state have handed 10 death sentences to those convicted of raping, and in some cases murdering, minor victims. The high court has confirmed one death sentence so far.
Rajendra Kumar, Director of Public Prosecution, linked this “improved conviction rate” to the government’s move to track and “reward” prosecutors. About eight months ago, the government introduced the ‘eProsecution MP’ App, which can be downloaded from Google Play Store, to track the daily activities of the 1,000-odd government prosecutors across the state.
Taking this a step further, the state government devised a “reward system” about two months ago to motivate its prosecutors to ensure speedy trials and quick convictions — 1,000 points for a death sentence, 500 for a life term, 100-200 points for maximum punishment in lower courts, tags like “best prosecutor of the month” and “pride of prosecution” for those who have collected over 2,000 points, and a strict warning to those who get less than 500 points per month.
The prosecutors are expected to keep a daily log and each activity — from filing a new case to examining witnesses — is rated differently and gets corresponding points.
On August 3, several prosecutors from across the state were felicitated by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at his residence in Bhopal for ensuring death sentences to rapists of minor girls.
“Now that the prosecutors are required to keep a daily account of their activities, the conviction rate has improved. With the reward system in place, prosecutors now go the extra mile to log more points. Though there’s no monetary award yet, these achievements will be recorded in their annual confidential report,’’ Kumar told The Sunday Express.
“Earlier the stock reply given on behalf of a prosecutor was ‘court mein hain (he/ she is in court)’, but no one had any idea about what exactly they did there,’’ said Kumar. Since the system was introduced, prosecutors are working to ensure there are no delays on their part. “There is competition among them to get more points,’’ said Kumar.
Dismissing the possibility of the system prompting prosecutors to cut corners, Kumar said senior officials go through the documents before they are submitted in court.
Asked what would happen in cases where the high court disagrees with the lower court’s ruling, in which prosecutors have been awarded points, Kumar said, “Only if the high court passes strictures, we will take a call on punishing the prosecutors’’. Every death sentence has to be confirmed by the high court.
Madhya Pradesh, which has a high incidence of offences against women especially minor girls, was the first state to clear a Bill — the Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017 — on December 4, 2017, providing for capital punishment to those convicted of raping girls below 12 years. However, the Bill remained pending with the Centre, which promulgated the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance on April 21, with similar punishment. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill was cleared by Parliament on August 7, and replaced the ordinance after the President’s nod on August 12.
Meanwhile, RTI activist Prashant Dubey said promoting death penalty was not a solution to stopping crime against women. “The rapist may be tempted to kill the victim knowing that her deposition could result in his own death,’’ he said.
August 6: A Chhatarpur court sentenced Touheed Shaukat, 19, to death for raping a two-and-a-half year old girl on April 24. He was arrested from the spot and the chargesheet was filed on June 11.
July 27: Rajkumar Kol, 34, was sentenced to death for raping a minor student in Katni town on July 4. He was arrested on July 7 and the chargesheet was filed on July 18.
July 7: Bhaggi alias Narayan Patel, 40, was sentenced to death by a court in Rehil, Sagar, for raping a nine-year-old girl on May 21. The chargesheet was filed on May 24.
August 16: A Burhanpur court handed death sentence to Badu alias Prakash Lahase, 34, for raping and killing a woman on May 17. The chargesheet was filed on July 7.
August 13: A court in Datia sentenced to death Nandkishore Gupta, 20, for sodomising and killing a 13-year-old boy on March 2. A 15-year-old co-accused was tried in a juvenile court. They were arrested on March 4 and the chargesheet was filed on May 2.
July 27: Jitendra Kushwah, 25, was sentenced to death by a Gwalior court for raping and murdering a six-year-old on June 20-21 night. The ice-candy vendor was arrested on June 22 and the chargesheet was filed on July 1.
June 19: A court in Sagar sentenced Sushil, 21, to death for raping and murdering a nine-year-old girl on April 13. The chargesheet was filed on May 30.
May 17: A Dhar court sentenced a 19-year-old to death for raping and killing a four-year-old girl on December 15-16, 2017. The chargesheet was filed within 15 days.
May 12: Naveen Gadke, 26, was sentenced to death by an Indore court for raping and murdering a four-month-old girl on April 20. The porter was arrested a day after the crime. The chargesheet was filed on April 27.
February 28: A Shahdol court sentenced to death Vinod alias Rahul Choutha, 22, for raping and murdering a four-year-old girl on May 13, 2017. The Madhya Pradesh High Court confirmed the death sentence on August 8.