The Maharashtra government has decided to set up a special cell to handle sex crimes against children.
It has also decided to move pending rape cases to a fast track court.
These decisions were announced in the legislature after the Opposition criticised the Home department for the growing incidence of sex crimes against children and an increase in rape cases. Minister of State for Home, Ramesh Bagwe, told the Legislative Council that the special cell will ensure that the culprits are punished quickly.
Home Minister R. R. Patil, told the Assembly that the state will request the high court to set up fast track courts for rape cases pending for more than a year. “The conviction rate in rape cases is poor,” said Patil. “The department will review cases pending for a year and forward them to the high court.’’
Patil also said that the state had already sent a proposal to the Centre to amend the law to make molestation a more serious crime. Patil added that the state has recommended to the Centre that the punishment for molestation be made more severe so that it acts as a deterrent. “We will take this up with the Centre on a priority basis,’’ Patil said.
The state, for example, has suggested that section 354 [assault to outrage the modesty of a woman] of the Indian Penal Code should attract three years of imprisonment instead of two and an offence under section 491 [breach of contract to supply wants of a helpless person] should warrant three years behind bars instead of three months.
There were three cases of molestation of minors in Mumbai in the last one month. The body of a seven-year-old girl was found in a police colony in Kurla recently. The girl was allegedly molested. Cases of abuse of minors were reported in tribal schools and private coaching classes in Lonavala, Shirdi and Malegaon in the past three months.
“Why can’t there be in camera statement of the victim? Her evidence should be believed and the police should arrest the person named instead of waiting to gather other circumstantial evidence,’’ said BJP legislator, Pankaja Munde.
CM Ashok Chavan said the police will ensure chargesheets in rape cases are filed quickly.