Delhi records maximum rapes in the country and outdoes its nearest competitor, Mumbai, almost three times over, as per official statistics. Yet, at least two thirds of rape accused go scot-free here, as the police fail to prove charges against them.
The Delhi Police take pride in claiming 98 per cent of rape cases are worked out and the accused arrested. What they don’t tell you is that almost 70 per cent of those arrested eventually walk out of the jail free — for want of evidence. This performance is even below the national average of rape conviction.
According to 2006 crime statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Delhi recorded 533 rape cases that year, and also led the pack of most unsafe states for women by contributing the biggest share (18.9 per cent) of the total crimes committed against women.
The comparable rate of conviction in rape cases in various states throws up even worrying trends. In Delhi, a measly 25 per cent of the total rape accused were eventually held guilty by courts and imprisoned, when the national average was 27.2 per cent. Compare this to statistics in Chandigarh (52.9), Punjab (33.6), Rajasthan (34.4) and Uttar Pradesh (51.5).
So why is a police force that deals with the most rape cases unable to ensure that even half of the accused get the punishment they deserve? Delhi-based advocate Tarun Goombar partly blames poor investigation. “Interrogators goof up in meeting the basic requirements like getting the victim’s medical report prepared in time or recording witness account. At times, police plant a witness but the court sees through their trick,” he said.
Former Delhi commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma agreed but said investigators pursuing a rape case often find it a losing battle due to judicial delay and hostile complainants. “Ideally, a rape case should be wrapped up within a year, but it takes much longer in the current set up.”
Police contend their performance has improved over the last few years, when only about 15 per cent of accused were convicted. “We have deputed dedicated investigators to ensure that rape cases are pursued efficiently,” said Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat.