Manoj Kumar could spend the rest of his life in jail if he is convicted of raping the 5-year-old under the stringent anti-rape law enacted by the parliament recently. But more than 1 lakh rapists have gone unpunished across the country during 2001-2010 due to lack of evidence.
Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was right when he told Parliament on Monday that such rapes took place across the country. And statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau reveal they get away too. For instance, the police and prosecutors were able to prove the case against just about 36,006 men in the decade.
In the remaining 1.09 lakh cases — where the trial was completed during this period — the courts had to set free the accused due to lack of evidence. This includes the 14,500 cases where the accused were charged with rape of minor girls.
Either the police caught the real perpetrators and wasn’t able to back up its charge with the requisite evidence or had arrested the wrong set of people. In either case, it means that the culprits are back on streets.
Another 9,000 cases were closed after initial investigations as the police failed to track rapists or find any evidence against them. Government officials concede that the large percentage of criminals – either never caught or let off due to inadequate evidence – reflected the big challenge before the judicial system.
“People demand quick fix solutions and that is what they get... But to make a real change, we need more courts, prosecutors and trained policemen who have access to forensic science laboratories,” a police officer said.