As anger simmered across the nation over the bus gangrape in the Capital, the Delhi High Court on Friday delivered a stinging rap on the knuckles to the city’s police, demanding why the force hadn’t been able to prevent the outrage.
The court was unimpressed by the police’s listing of steps it had taken after the rape, from arresting the fifth accomplice to a crackdown on chartered buses and vehicles with tinted glasses. Later in the day, the sixth and last accused on the run, Akshay Thakur, was arrested in Bihar.
“The bus could not be detected for 40 long minutes. We wanted to know who all were the policemen on duty on the route and barricade and PCR van incharges. Why is the report evasive on all these points? We had asked specific questions,” said a bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice RS Endlaw.
The court was also critical of deficiencies at forensic laboratories and directed steps be taken so that prosecution in this case did not suffer.
“Evidence is lost. They don’t accept any sample as there is shortage of chemicals also. If it is so, then please rectify it immediately,” the bench said.
Conviction rates for rape averaged a mere 26 percent over the past decade in Delhi, mainly due to delays and poor quality of investigation.
Outside, the head of the city's police, Neeraj Kumar and his bureaucrat boss, home secretary R K Singh, swung into damage control mode, addressing a press conference to promise security to Delhiites.
New measures include ensuring discotheques close at 1 am, cracking down on drunk driving and loitering and impounding of chartered buses that break permit rules.
But Singh's compliments to the police for its "outstanding" work in cracking the "blind" case within 18 hours are likely to have struck a discordant note with Delhiites.
“There is no reason for Delhi Police to be on the defensive,” he added to a question if Kumar should take responsibility and step down.
Singh promised a zero tolerance towards all crime, big or small.
“People will feel the difference... Ladies and men, will all feel safe... They will be able to move around at any time of the day, or night,” he said, promising an attitudinal change in the 82,000 strong force.
Kajal Jain, a college student, said this should have been done “much, much earlier” but hoped Singh would keep his promise. “Now we want quick justice”.